“My name is Mike and I’m a weight training junkie.” What always attracted me to weight training both as a kid and still today is a strong muscular appearance capped off by actual strength and ability to match.
Most of the benefits we associate with weight training reside on the outside. We love looking good in our jeans, comfortable in a bathing suit, and not being startled by the mirror when we’re standing in front of it, naked. (Or did you remove all the mirrors from your house?)
I know I know, it’s not the sexiest of topics but if it weren’t for having a sturdy skeletal system your muscles would be a pile of mush anyway. Think about it. Your ability remain upright through your torso is thanks to your spine, standing up and moving normally is thanks to your hips and the femur and tibia residing below them.
When we suffer bone loss in these areas our quality of living is effectively, screwed. You start looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame and moving like a pregnant turtle. The way to prevent this tragedy from occurring as well as reverse it if you’ve started down this path, is weight training.
The effects of weight training on bone density are best observed in studies on post-menopausal women. The reason being, this group is most susceptible to osteoporosis (bone loss). Though men can suffer from osteoporosis too as they age, the percentages are much greater in women.
68 percent of the 44 million people at risk for osteoporosis are women. One of every two women over age 50 will likely have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. That's twice the rate of fractures in men — one in four. 75 percent of all cases of hip osteoporosis affect women. (www.everdayhealth.com)
I’ll save you all the research studies and scientific jargon and just give it to you straight.
The effects of weight training on helping to prevent and reverse the effects of osteoporosis are super-duper significant...so lift.
But don’t just lift. Lift hard and heavy and when you can. Check out the diagram below from a study on the Relationship between tons lifted per year and vertebral bone density.
However even if you can’t lift heavy because of injury or aging there’s still hope. A study done at Penn State that had post-menopausal women (average age of 48) perform low-load training but working at a high-intensity resulted in a 4-8% increase in bone density after just 27 weeks of exercising 2-3 times a week.
So in spite of how much we’re not paying attention to it, all of this weight bearing exercise we’re doing to shape and mold our bodies is actually paying huge dividends on the inside. So long as you remain vigilant you’ll be reducing the likelihood of suffering fractures and breaks in the future that will severely hamper your quality of living.
Posted on 5/17/2017 at 3:32:00 AM
When Corrie-Beth posted the above picture of me making a huge bowl of frozen yogurt on FB and IG it created quite a stir. In light of this I thought I should address a few things.
First, it’s true. I’ve been having a sizeable bowl of frozen yogurt every night for the past 3 weeks AND I’ve consistently lost body-fat. Hence, every comment on Corrie-Beth’s post that wasn’t “He’s human!” was “How do I get on THAT diet?”
I’ll tell you how but we need back this train up because in this instance a picture is NOT worth a thousand words.
As humans we naturally look at a situation—especially an envious one like someone eating your favorite desert and being in good shape—and we automatically think how “lucky” that person is. Or, how “unfair” it is that you can’t do the same.
Here’s the backdrop on this situation.
Back in mid-March I made a decision that I was going to get into near competition shape for my 40th at the end of June. I was starting relatively lean—only 10 lbs. from the weight I competed at 4 years ago—and would start my “serious” diet exactly 3 months from the day.
On Monday March 20th I began logging all my meals in the MyFitnessPal app. I had my calorie and macro targets set and through the first week I did my best to figure out what foods and in what amounts helped me hit those targets. It wasn’t perfect but after a week of weighing and measuring my foods I had a good idea of what some of daily meals would look like.
From the start I was diligent about hitting my macro target—which were approximately 240g. CHO, 130g. PRO, 30g FAT—even on the weekends. I didn’t waiver from the numbers. I would maybe change the foods, even allow myself some pizza, dinners out, or indulgences but I made sure that by the end of the day the numbers added up or were at least within reason.
I feel this is a good time to make mention that even though I titled this article “Getting Lean on Ice Cream” I haven’t actually had any ice cream during this period of dieting. I intentionally stick with frozen yogurt since it’s lower in fat, which makes it easier for me to hit my FAT numbers at the end of the day while still enjoying myself.
This concept of still enjoying (not overindulging on) foods you like while working to get lean is what we call “Flexible dieting” or we’ll say “If it fits your macros” (IIFYM). But the only way to know if that Friday night pizza will “do no harm” is if you’ve been tracking your food intake and know whether or not it will keep you at least within your caloric target for the day.
After the initial two-and-a-half weeks I came down with the flu. Bedridden for nearly a week, not eating and only drinking fluids gave me a little extra fat-loss kick but I wouldn’t recommend this as a strategy nor do I plan on implementing it in the future.
The following week I was back on track and it’s was not until midway through week four that the nightly frozen yogurt indulgence became a thing. At this point I had momentum and was seeing positive results in the mirror and on the scale. But most importantly I went into each evening with enough carbs left to have my frozen yogurt AND I WEIGHED OUT HOW MUCH I HAD ACCORDING TO THE AMOUNT OF CARBS I HAD LEFT FOR THE DAY. So if it was a small cup it was a small cup. If it was a large bowl it was a large bowl...with sprinkles.
The last and maybe most important point I can make is best related by a story about Picasso that you may or may not have heard before.
The story goes that Picasso was sitting in a Paris café when an admirer approached and asked if he would do a quick sketch on a paper napkin. Picasso politely agreed, swiftly executed the work, and handed back the napkin — but not before asking $25,000 for it. The admirer was shocked: “How can you ask for so much? It took you a minute to draw this!” “No”, Picasso replied, “It took me 40 years”
When we see pictures like the one Corrie-Beth posted of me, or The Rock sitting behind a stack of pancakes, or a figure competitor wolfing down a juicy bacon cheeseburger we fail to see all that led up to that point.
Between working as a personal trainer and competing as a natural bodybuilder I have 18 years of diet and nutrition experience. At this stage I know PRECISELY how much to eat and not eat, as well as how long I need to eat this way for in order to achieve a certain look.
There were many long periods (months to years) in which I gave up the dinners out, pizza, ice cream, cookies, alcohol, and more alcohol. This was where the lessons in self-control and discipline came in. This is why I can "go off the reservation" for a night, a day or a few days and not let it snowball into weeks or months of poor choices and the squandering of previous results.
Like I said at the start, a picture is not always worth a thousand words. In this case it was worth one seventy nine. Count em!
Posted on 5/5/2017 at 2:23:00 AM
The question I kept being asked was which approach I follow since I really didn’t state a preference in the article but rather stated the facts about each.
Though I believe different strategies are best suited for different circumstances I know you're not looking for the democratic answer, so here it is.
Well...science for one. Psychology, for two. Performance, for three.
In head-to-head studies and side-by-side comparisons there is virtually zero difference in fat-loss between keto (low-carb) diets and low-fat (high-carb) diets. Let me say...Read more
Posted on 4/22/2017 at 4:26:00 AM
To detox (verb) is to “abstain from or rid the body of toxic or unhealthy substances for a period of time.” There are many things we should detox ourselves from…food, alcohol, habits, people, etc. Use April as a springboard towards better physical and mental health by using the following Detox methods, as well as sticking to Ashley’s suggestions for “10 Things to Trash Right Now.”
5 Ways to Detox Your Mind & Soul
1. Practice acceptance of your emotions. Instead of trying to force a certain emotion in any situation, try to have complete acceptance of whatever you feel in that moment. Trying to change what you feel will not make you feel better…recognize, accept and move on.
2. Go for a long drive. Have no destination in mind and pay attention to your surroundings. Listen to music and get lost in the moment for a mind-clearing experience. For all those “This is Us” fans…“Roll all your windows down…Crank up the music…let someone else make your bed.”
3. “Unfollow” that person or persons that always annoy you on social media. You know who they are…the ones who whenever you see their name, you can’t help but read what they wrote and instantly get annoyed. Get rid of them now.
4. Pull out a pen and paper. Emptying your mind onto paper will make you feel instantly better. Even if you don’t say the words to anyone, getting them out is therapeutic.
5. Create a trigger. Chose a “ move” that will instantly recharge and energize you. It can be a clap, word, movement or phrase…whatever will personally motivate you to start functioning optimally. When you feel yourself start to fall, “make your move.”
Posted on 4/19/2017 at 11:00:00 AM
Last month we looked at ketogenic diets, flexible diets, and low-fat diets. As with part one I won’t be taking a position on which I like most or least but rather just present you the facts. However since I was asked by many of you what my preferred approach to diet is I will release an article soon that will detail what it is and why.
Let's get it on!
Posted on 4/10/2017 at 8:00:00 AM
Growing up I used to hear that the only two things certain in this world were death and taxes. But then I became a personal trainer and learned of a third, which is...
I wrote the subject heading "Want a butt lift?" because I knew it would get 99% of women to read this article. But this isn't about deception, it's about education.
The glutes are the most requested "area to work on" by women. However guys, you should pay attention also because trust me when I tell you that your wife/girlfriend wants you to work on your glutes too!
Now there's good news and bad news.
Bad news: Like every muscle of your body the shape of your glutes is predetermined at birth and you can't change it. Shape is based on a muscle's size, length, tendon length, and where its inserts on the bone (i.e. high or low insertion points).
Good news: Despite your predefined "shape" your glutes can be developed to be full, tight, and toned by performing the right exercises the right way and zeroing in on your nutrition.
It won't come as a surprise to anyone who read my article on abs that a key element to having a toned and shapely backside is being at a healthy body-fat percentage. I recognize that the perception of many women is that if they could just move the fat from other areas of their body to their butt that would solve all their problems.
Unfortunately fat doesn't have a shape. So accumulating more fat over the glutes does not result in it looking rounder or more shapely, but it will give it more 'shapes'.
Women who worry about "losing their butt" when they lose body-fat are really missing the forest for the trees. A leaner body typically means a leaner waist and legs which then accentuates the glutes.
Here's an example of a figure competitor I coached. Though she was in great shape to start with you can see the difference in how her glutes look after just 2 months of changing her nutrition.
Instagram and Facebook would have you believe that it's all about SQUATS. Yes, squats are a great exercise for the glutes but I wouldn't rank it as being the best... or second best. Then again, I'm hardpressed to ever say that any exercise is inherently better than another.
Different exercises (for the same muscle group) will have different effects. Some work a particular part of the muscle more so than others. Some exercises are easier to feel the muscle you are working. Some exercises are not good because they cause the trainee pain. Others are better because they can be done painlessly. So much comes down to the needs, abilities, and limitations of the individual.
For these reasons it's important to perform a variety of exercises to target the glutes.
1. Hip Thrusts
4. Hip/Back Extensions
6. Reverse Hyperextensions
7. Leg Presses
8. Hip Abductor machine
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Posted on 3/15/2017 at 5:11:00 AM
You can say what you want about nutrition but when it comes down to (a) embarking on a new regimen, (b) sticking to a plan or (c) working towards a goal, it’s ALL mental.
Posted on 3/9/2017 at 10:00:00 AM
Here it is. The question everyone wants answered and the answer they don't want to accept. I'm going to break this down very simply and then I hope you share it with everyone you know that needs to hear it.
Your abdominal is a muscle, and it's not your problem. Everyone has "abs"; not everyone can see them.
You want to do ab exercises because you think it's going to lead to a flat stomach. That's what Men's Fitness and Shape magazine would have you believe. But that's not the truth.
Look at the image above. That is what each and every one of our abdominal looks like...and it looks pretty flat to me. In fact, the muscles that make up our core--the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and the internal and external obliques--are probably some of the flattest, thinnest muscles in our body.
Training these muscles are important, but not for the reason most people train them. All the crunches and leg lifts in the world won't affect your waistline to any noticeable difference.
You see that blue section that says "Abdominal cavity"? That's the abdominal muscle pictured at the top of the page--the one we all have. Now you see the yellow area in front and behind the abdominal cavity? That's subcutaneous (under the skin) and intra-abdominal fat.
Let me repeat, THAT CANNOT BE EXERCISED OFF.
UNLESS...the exercise helps put you in an energy (caloric) deficit. What type of exercise? It doesn't matter. In fact, it doesn't even matter if you exercise! You can enter an energy deficit simply by consuming fewer calories than your body expends.
Your body will only utilize subcutaneous and intra-abdominal fat as a last resort. You can crunch, lift, run, spin, and dance until you're in all your endorphin ecstasy. Your body will only tap into that belly fat if you're in an energy deficit.
You don't have to like it but it's an infallible truth. It also doesn't matter if you eat low-carb, low-fat, Paleo, vegan, organic, or follow any other diet-of-the-month. If you don't wind up in a deficit that fat will comfortably make its home right where it is.
Of course there is. There are factors which influence your metabolism and determine how few or how many calories you actually need to burn fat. (Hint hint: being too low in calories, carbs, fat, and protein is just as detrimental as consuming too many.) However, that's a conversation for another time.
I'm NOT saying, don't do them--just don't treat them differently than any other muscle group you exercise. As you can see above, it's not a large or thick muscle. That means its potential for development is small. It also means it does not take as much time or effort to fully develop it.
Focus your efforts on fat-loss over time and THAT is how you GET ABS.
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Posted on 3/9/2017 at 5:42:00 AM