Old School Inspiration

So in light of the mega fight coming up this weekend, I thought I’d share this awesome video, it still gets me pumped!

When you’re inspired, you’re never tired.

Be relentless today.

If You’re a Serious Lifter/Athlete – You Need to Start Doing This TODAY

When talking with competitors, athletes, or aspiring gym goers, there seems to be one critical element that’s missing in their training protocol.

Have you ever seen the movie I am Legend, with Will Smith? One of my favorite actors by the way. Well, in the movie, Dr. Robert Neville (Smith) is trying to concoct a serum that will reverse a disease that has spread to all humanity and infected most of the human race. He’s alone, so he thinks, and is certain that if he can produce this serum, civilization will have a chance to be restored to normal. Needless to say, he’s highly motivated to get the job done.

In the scenes where Neville is seen working in his lab, trying to create this substance, what does he do constantly?

He’s shown doing video logs, and documenting every move he makes. He’s working with trail and error, trying this combination and that, hoping to come up with something that clicks. Day after day he’s in the lab, trying, failing, logging, rethinking, logging, trying again, documenting.

As a serious lifter/athlete, think of yourself as a scientist and your body as the experiment. What’s missing from so many people’s training protocols that I come across is a TRAINING JOURNAL.

What is that exactly? It’s a daily log of some kind where you’re tracking everything from your food, your workouts down to the minute detail, every set and rep, time to completion, how you look, how you feel, weight, body fat percentage, total sets, measurements, and supplements.

Photo Apr 24, 4 40 52 PM

Why is having a training journal beneficial?

1) You’ll know what works for you, and what doesn’t.

Do you know exactly what training split works best with your body? Do you know what your body responds worst to? Do you know exactly what training style and set breakdown works best for you, and worst? Do you know if you’re able to burn fat more effectively fasted, at night, or with HIIT? These are all examples of questions you will know the exact answer to if you tracked everything with detail. Would be nice to know right?

2) You’ll start to notice patterns. 

Related to number 1, with a detailed training journal, over time you’ll start to notice patterns in your training. For example, when I go low carb (100-120 grams) for two straight days followed by a heavy full body workout, my body looks tight, muscles full and dense. Or, when I train 3 days in a row I will get flat and feel tired. Maybe, when carb cycling, on high carb days my midsection looks bloated somewhat and I feel strongest on my mid carb days.

You’ll start to notice over arching patterns like, when I’m dieting, taking calories up gradually and workload down, worst best for my body composition changes. If you’re serious, this is a gold mine of information.

3) You’ll have a reference point for success. 

Feel stuck? What if you could pinpoint a time in your training history where you were making the biggest gains and having the biggest changes in body composition, and have everything tracked with so much detail, that you could put that on replay and achieve the exact same desired results, down to the smallest portion?

What if you’re dieting for a show and you knew exactly what you were doing each day diet wise and training wise down to the exact minutes you were in the gym each day? Wouldn’t that give you immense confidence that you could duplicate and build off of that success again whenever you wanted?

4) You’ll know if you’re REALLY making progress. 

What if you could look back two years ago and see that you benched 200 lbs for 5 reps in your first set of a chest workout. Then one year ago, in the same scenario, you benched 215 for 6. And finally today you put up 230 for 8. That’s real progress! And not only that, but as explained previously you’ll be able to look back at what you did to achieve those gains and DUPLICATE it.

5) You’re training will be more efficient. 

Ever start dieting and after a while start feeling weak, tired and sluggish? What if you had a documented body composition test periodically and it was recorded and you could see that you were losing lean mass, thus slowing your metabolism? If you had records that your work output was literally decreasing in the gym and also a recent body fat test logged, it would be a simple solution to adjust your calories or training style to stop the bleeding!

On the contrary, if you didn’t have records to show those things, maybe you’d continue on for 2-3 weeks before finally making a change and end up costing yourself an extra pound or two of lean mass lost in the process. For the serious athlete, this is a cost you shouldn’t be willing to pay.

6) You’ll become a master of setting a very specific goal, and then reaching it. 

Combining all of these points, once you what works for you, know patterns your body sticks to, have reference points for success, know where progress lies, are confident you are as efficient as possible in your training, then you will become a master of setting a long or short term goal, a very specific one, and hitting it.

For example, one year from now, I want to have gained 8 pounds of lean mass, take my body fat down 2.7%, squat 270 for 10 fresh and lose an inch in my waist. Having that as your goal, you’ll have the confidence to say, I KNOW THE EXACT PATH AND INGREDIENTS I NEED TO HIT THAT MARK. No doubts, no mysteries, no guessing, no hoping. You’re a scientist and you know the formula. Like Dr. Neville, you have found the formula that will cure.

So in conclusion, if you’re serious, if you are passionate and driven to be the best, the first thing I would recommend you do, is start a training journal. Oh and.. don’t leave out any details.

Go get it. Win.

Fat Loss Diet Contruction

Every body is different. Everyone is at a different place in their fitness journey. This article will lay out some guidelines that have worked for me, in terms of putting together a diet for fat loss. But I think there are some over arching principles for everyone. Let’s take a look at some construction steps.

When it comes to dieting for fat loss, the biggest mistake I see people make, is under eating.

1) When looking to put together a diet, first, know your BMR. What’s that? Its how many calories your body burns per day simply by being alive. Here’s a great calculator to determine yours. Be sure to use the Harris-Benedict formula.

http://www.etoolsage.com/calculator/BMR_Calculator.asp?toolsort=1500

So say your BMR is 1500 calories. That means that if you were laying in bed all day, not moving, your body would need 1500 calories to maintain its current weight.

2) From here, calculate how many calories your burning per day from activity. This is called Total Daily Energy Expenditure. This helpful tool uses dials to calculate both BMR and TDEE.

http://www.health-calc.com/diet/energy-expenditure-advanced

Now that you’ve incorporated your exercise into the mix, let’s say your TDEE is 2100 calories. That means that to maintain your current weight, with your current lifestyle, you need to eat 2100 calories per day.

At this point, its simple math. If you want to gain weight, simply ADD more calories to the 2100. If you want to lose weight, SUBTRACT calories from the 2100.

As mentioned earlier though, everyone’s metabolism is different, so utilize this strategy, but continue monitoring your weight and body fat percentage to see how things are progressing and make adjustments.

3) For this example, let’s say you want to lose weight. A great way to begin would be to subtract 300 calories, and consume 1800 calories per day. Always be moderate, as you don’t want to under eat, and risk losing valuable muscle mass.

4) Now, to keep your metabolism high, eat 6 small meals per day, spaced about 3 hours apart, equaling about 300 calories per.

Make sure every meal is composed of HIGH QUALITY sources of protein, carbs and fat. DON’T neglect any one of the three. None of them are evil! In fact, all are necessary for fat loss.

Now for the foundation of the diet. The foods we’re eating! Here are some of my favorite, nutrient dense foods that will aid in a killer body composition.

Protein – Tilapia, Salmon, Chicken, Lean Steak, Eggs, Egg Whites

Carbs – Sweet Potatoes, Brown Rice, Oats, Green Veggies

Fats – Almonds, Coconut/Olive Oil, Seeds

Here’s the kicker. You don’t need protein shakes! The “products” are over hyped, and over marketed. Focus on natural, whole foods, and I guarantee you’ll be better off!

Instead of going to GNC for the latest protein supplement, take that money and go to your local grocery store and buy some tilapia and veggies! Might wanna save some for coconut oil too. That stuff’s expensive, but a miracle worker in so many ways.

At the end of the day, its about consistency. Get your numbers right, get your foods right, your portions right, and do it day in and day out, measure progress, adjust. Listen to your body.

Photo Apr 20, 9 37 28 AM

You’re eating amazing foods! Don’t let anyone tell you it doesn’t taste good. This stuff is all natural gold. You’ll feel great, and have more energy than you ever have!

Give these steps a shot. Let me know what kind of progress you’re making!

WEIGHT Loss vs. FAT Loss: What You Need to Stop Doing

A lot of people come to me with weight loss goals. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re overweight, losing weight is a great idea.

So many health problems come from simply carrying excess weight over time. Let me ask you an honest question. When is the last time you saw someone who is 1) at a very advanced age, 80’s to 90’s and 2) is obese?

It’s rare because.. being very overweight is an extreme stressor on your body. Your joints, heart, ligaments, circulation system, digestive system, all of them have to work extra hard.

The question is though, do we want to lose WEIGHT, or do we want to lose FAT? Invest in getting a body fat percentage test done. This will tell you what your weight is made of. Let’s look at an example.

John weighs in at 200 pounds. He has 25% body fat. This means he has 50 lbs of fat and 150 lbs of lean weight (muscle, bone and water).

So what should John do to achieve his ideal body? Lose weight, or lose fat?

Option A) Let’s say John decides to look at the scale as his measure of success, and is able to get down to 180, but his body fat percentage stays the same, 25%. Now, he would have 45 lbs of fat and 135 lbs of lean weight.

What John has done is lost 5 lbs of fat and 15 pounds of lean weight (muscle). This is the worst possible scenario because not only will his body SHAPE remain the same, but because of his lost muscle, his metabolism will be much slower and it will be HARDER for him to burn fat from here forward. He’s worse off than when he started.

Option B) Let’s say John decides to look at his body fat percentage as his measure of success, and is able to get that from 25% to 15% and he remains at 200 lbs. Now, he would have 30 lbs of fat and 170 lbs of lean weight.

What John has done is lost 20 lbs of fat, and gained 20 lbs of muscle! Not only will John’s visible shape and definition/tone be vastly improved, but because of the muscle gained, his metabolism will be burning so much hotter, it will be so much easier to continue to burn fat and maintain his current physique going forward.

The moral of the story is.. make your body fat percentage your measuring point of success. I wouldn’t say throw out your scales, but STOP looking at it as the main point of success in your journey.

body fat

Ok, you’re now seeing body fat percentage as the target. What to do now? How do you get that down permanently?

The overlapping principle is, MORE MUSCLE = HIGHER METABOLISM = LOWER BODY FAT %

This means, weight training!! If you want to achieve the ideal physique, shape, tone, body composition that you want, male or female, the best way to do it long term, is through weight training.

transformation

Think about this. Say you devote a year to working at a solid, structured, weight training routine. You put on just 10 pounds of lean muscle. Did you know that that muscle will now burn an extra 3500 calories per week at rest? That’s 1 pound of pure fat! Why is that? Well, muscle is living tissue, it needs active nutrients to support it, it takes energy (calories) to get those nutrients to the muscle. Fat on the other hand, is dead tissue. It doesn’t need nutrients and therefore burns no calories by being there.

So if you’re asking yourself.. how could I possibly burn a pound of body fat per week while I’m sleeping, watching TV, or sitting in class, the answer is, build a few pounds of muscle, and that will do it for you. Talk about efficient!

If you want to be able to have some flexibility in your diet, and to not have to devote your life to the treadmill, then the key is to raise your metabolism. Let your body work more efficiently.

Think about it like this. Cardio is like an hourly job. If you’re not there, working, no paycheck right? No calories burned. So say you take a “vacation”.. what’s going to happen? Without a paycheck, you’re going to see weight gain.

Now think of weight training as an investment. If you focus on building a few pounds of muscle through weight training, that muscle will pay you “dividends” in fat loss around the clock. No matter what you’re doing.

Who doesn’t want passive income right?

So here are the takeaways.

1) Look at body fat percentage as the main point of success in your fitness journey

2) To make our lives easier, we want to focus on raising our metabolism first

3) The best way to raise your metabolism to increase fat burning long term is to build muscle, through weight training

If you have a question, or are wondering how to get started, leave a comment, or reach out, I’d be glad to help. Get after it!

Competitive Greatness

John Wooden, legendary basketball coach for UCLA, defines competitive greatness as performing at your best when your best is required.

Personally, I can greatly appreciate someone, whether in sports or otherwise, who can bring their best to the table when it is absolutely required.

How often do we stop to assess our own focus, determination, and drive? How often do we take stock of our own willingness to put in the work to be able to have the confidence in our skill set to bring our best to the table in a critical moment? I think it separates the good from the great.

In relation to training, or fitness, how often do you train your focus? For me, this is part of the fun and thrill of training and competing that I love. Constantly improving your focus and ability to bring my best to the table when it is absolutely required.  To look out over the course of a years time, determine a specific measuring point of success as a target, maybe a specific weight, lean body mass, BF% or strength level, and have the confidence to bring that to fruition on game day.

This is where I use the ready, aim, fire approach discussed in this previous post.

http://buildingbetterfitness.com/2015/03/24/ready-aim-fire/

This video might help better illustrate the idea. Legendary focus.

Many people like to train, workout, set goals. But, if you want to take it to that next level, start training your focus, your competitive greatness. Have the confidence to bring your best to the table when it is absolutely required.

3 Ways to Increase Body Fat

As we enter into competition season, and many are looking to lean up, there are a few commonly overlooked factors that will have a major role in your success.

If you’re a natural athlete like me, there’s something that’s likely hindering your progress that no one wants to talk about.

The fact is, many of the training articles and workout splits you see in major fitness magazines have been put together by people who are not natural.

These workouts that are advocated for the masses are many times not at all wise for a natural athlete.

I cringe when I see 6 day a week, 2 times a day training splits, being promoted as safe and effective for the average gym goer.

If you’re natural, your body’s metabolism and recovery mechanisms are working at a much lesser clip than someone who isn’t natural. Your training needs to reflect that difference.

body fat

Always make sure everything you’re doing in the gym has a specific purpose

Here are 3 sure fire ways to increase inflammation and body fat:

  • Lack of adequate sleep
  • Too much stress
  • Too much exercise (overtraining)

Solution: Rest, relax, train smarter not longer and harder.

Listen to your body. What is it telling you? Do you feel tired and worn down? Do your joints ache? Are you not as mentally sharp and focused? Does your mind wander while training? Looking at your training journal, are you stagnant in your strength progressions or even regressing in some areas? Always be asking yourself these questions.

Listen to your body, give it time to recover, build itself stronger, and then get back to the gym and attack again.

Comparison – The Thief of Joy

For many of us, what is the end goal of working out? A lot of it is about a sense of accomplishment, becoming a better you, building discipline, pushing your body to be its best.

Working in the gym setting for some years now, its become even more evident that the biggest thief of the joy of those accomplishments, is comparison.

The quickest way to bleed out the self confidence and satisfaction gained from making positive changes to your body, is to allow yourself to stop looking forward and to start looking around you and comparing yourself to others.

Everyone’s body is different. Everyone’s fitness journey is different. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with pursuing greatness, and competing for victories, even to the level of competing in shows, which I myself do. But we run into problems when we start seeing success as being “better” than someone else. Success in fitness, is about being a better you.

This applies to all areas of life. Your level of contentedness will be directly proportional to the time spent comparing yourself to others.

As you push forward in your fitness journey, build better, if you will, but remember, you’ll never be satisfied, and you’ll miss out on all the fun, if you define success outside of yourself.