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Building Strength On Dysfunction

What Is Strength on Dysfunction

I have had a lot of people ask me what this means so I want to clarify it so we are all on the same page going forward.

We have already discussed that the basic fundamentals of weight training are necessary for anyone that wants to pick up a weight. If you are doing any kind of resistance training you need to have already mastered the basics and should be able to lift them with considerable weight before moving on. How much weight that means is for another article. This not only builds strength but makes the body less injury prone by correcting imbalances created from years of curls with no tricep work or years of bench pressing with no back work.

The body works in symmetry with itself and there is a give and take. One muscle is the agonist and the other the antagonist. This is required for certain muscle pairings because a muscle can not push itself back into place; it must be pulled by another muscle. For instance, the bicep in a bicep curl is the agonist and the tricep is the antagonist. The bicep is contracting and the tricep is assisting this movement by lengthening. If one is worked and not the other an imbalance is created, which is only going to lead to injury. The more this imbalance is allowed to grow the higher the risk. When weight is then put on this dysfunction the path is set for a big problem.

 How Does This Happen

I will illustrate an instance in which I have seen this occur and where it is most common. Many of you have probably seen this as well to some degree.

The individual that loves the bench press. It is like men have to go to this. Of course it is a valuable training tool but a lot of men use it exclusively as though there is no other way to train the chest. We will call this man, Alpha1. Alpha1 likes the bench. He shows up and puts 225 on it right off the bat. Not a big deal since he is weighing in at 200lbs but still a hefty sum. He churns out a warm up set and then decides its time to blow the chest out. He throws on 285 and we are off. He lifts the iron off the rack and is working his butt off to get through the set. The elbows are flaring out, his butt is climbing inches off the bench, his feet are squirming like a fish on dry land and he is bouncing this bar off his chest like it was a trampoline. Then it happens, POP! You hear it clear across the gym and you know that wasn’t a weight dropping.

What happened? Rotator cuff is dunnzo. Alpha1 has torn it clean and he is clearly going to be down and out for at least 6-12 weeks. Good luck with that.

So whats the problem here? Besides the glaring ruined shoulder and terrible form? The problem is this guy wasn’t set for that weight, clearly. I used this as an example but this could just as easily be someone lifting a more modest amount of weight. Its not even necessary that the weight be high, its the underlying dysfunction in his body that increased his risk of injury. I see people every day that have terrible form but that doesn’t mean they are going to blow their back out or tear their rotator cuff. It makes it more likely to happen but not a given.

If this individual had also been working his back to an equivalent degree he would have had better control over his movements. He wouldn’t have been flailing like a dying fish, he wouldn’t have needed to raise his butt off the bench or flare his elbows because he would have had the assisted strength of the antagonist muscles as well as the fundamental strength to manage the bar and put up the weight.

Of course he could have probably been just fine with 255lb and never blown his shoulder, who knows. The whole point is to increase the weight, build additional strength and muscle he will need to make certain he is working all points so his strength is symmetrical. He needs to be doing the row, the press, the chinups (with weight) etc. These would have assisted in building that base. Instead he usually just finished up the bench and walked over to the dumbbells to spend an hour curling.

This is especially true when starting squats and deads. These should both be involved in a resistance program but not completed on the same day. Although compound exercises working multiple muscle groups the squat is hitting the quads, the dead lift is hitting the hamstrings. Make sure you have the form right because it is always harder to correct incorrect lifting patterns later on than if they were addressed in the beginning. Do not be afraid to start small and build up. The strength gains will come quick if you are doing it correctly and doing all the fundamental lifts. Do not be surprised to see initial jumps of 10-20% on weight in the first few weeks just don’t shoot for the moon right off the bat. Sometimes adding just 2.5% to your weight is enough. Better to under judge and up your weight next time then to injury yourself and be out completely for a few weeks.

This addresses simply the strength portion as there are weaknesses in muscle groups that usually need correcting before even beginning a training program. For example, in today’s world many people have tight hip flexors due to sitting for long periods of time, which have created a real weakness. Attempting to increase the weight on your squats without correcting this imbalance can cause serious problems with your lower back. Make certain to address any potential imbalances before getting started. My suggestion? Find someone certified in functional movement systems that can take a look at you and recommend some corrective exercises if necessary. Don’t build strength on dysfunction. Correct imbalances, utilize all the fundamentals to build proper strength and then you can fool around with any training you like without fear of injury.  

Organic Produce Delivered To Your Door!

I updated every one on The Green Polka Dot Box launch a week or so ago. I just wanted to provide more insight.

This company is the Sams club of the organic world. It will be the Whole Foods of the internet. It is gearing to end up on NASDAQ by mid-February and is doing increasingly well in its first few weeks, which means people are responding to it.

One question I wanted to make readers aware of was whether or not this is simply local. This is a company that ships to all US states, it is not a local buying group. This means that your have the purchasing power of thousands instead of a small group. This also means cheaper prices! You can finally obtain organic products at up to 60% off!

Second question. Yes, they realize that 800+ natural and organic products is not enough. They are actively working to add more weekly and estimate an addition of 200+ products by next week and hopefully continuing on this weekly addition by similar numbers. People want organic, clean food and with the response they are getting right off the bat I think we will see only more products and services in the future.

The most exciting part is their Harvest to Home program should be launching in the first quarter of next year. This is a big deal and is great that they are on target to launch it so quickly. This will be the first time you can order organic produce that will be shipped directly to your door! Forget having to work with a local farm or get only a small, select amount of produce from a co-op. You will now be able to purchase any organic product and have it delievered to you. With the prices this low many people will be able to eat organic that simply couldn't afford it before.

I am very excited about this because I try to get all my clients to eat organic. Its better in every way compared to conventional foods and my clients bodies can attest to that.

Check it out, sign up and get started eating the All The Way Fit way.

Over-Eating, Hungry All The Time? What You Don't Know Is Blocking Your Weight Loss

People often give me the strangest reasons for why they can't stop munching all day and lose weight. Maybe its because I have a fat gene, maybe its because I don't drink enough water, maybe its because I don't exercise enough blah, blah, blah.

I have discussed the only way to lose weight on this site for a while now. 
  1. The only way to lose weight is with a calorie reduction (I recommend intermittent fasting).
  2. Follow a diet that you can live with for the long haul.
Thats it. Thats how weight is lost. Yes, you can add resistance training in order to build lean muscle or aerobic training to facilitate the burning of a few more calories but if you don't address the amount of calories you eat it will make little difference. Hormones do play a role but tend to get corrected with proper eating and the intermittent fasting enhances the bodies utilization of same.

So why is it that even when you have all that correct you still feel hungry all the time? Macronutrient consumption plays a large role.

Protein Regulates Calorie Consumption

Scientists have speculated that primates regulate food intake the same way humans do, which is by the amount of protein they consume. An older study in the Journal of Behavioral Ecology found that spider monkeys with limited access to protein increased their intake of low protein, high carb foods to reach their protein needs. The end result was they consumed more calories overall. This suggests that humans have a tendency to do the same. Basically these spider monkeys would eat to fulfill a certain protein requirement. If they only had access to low protein, high carb foods they would eat more of these foods to fulfill the protein requirement and subsequently eat more calories by doing so. Interestingly the same phenomenon has been documented in mice seen here in the Journal Obesity.

The phenomenon is known as the "protein leverage effect." It states that inadequate protein increases overconsumption of calories as the body attempts to regulate this protein need. It is easy to see how this can cause a problem with overconsumption for those attempting to limit protein sources from animals.

Those of us that have not bought into the idea that all meat is bad tend to have an easier time with feeling satiated. I am familiar with many peope who eat a diet consisting mostly of plant based foods who are constantly hungry or having to snack on something. In order for these people to reach their protein requirement they have to eat constantly. Depending on how you digest these carbs will dictate to what degree you have weight issues but there is little doubt that if your meal plan does not contain enough protein you will put on the pounds due to the overconsumption of calories.

What To Do?

Make sure you are eating adequate amounts of protein. The answer is simple. If humans, like primates, regulate food intake by the amount of protein consumed then make certain you are eating enough. Voila! Problem solved.

I recommend anywhere from .8-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. This is not a hard figure to reach but is high compared to the RDA. My reasoning for this and the amount of protein required by each individual depends on a few factors.
  • Your weight loss goals
  • Your current weight
  • Your current activity level
  • Your age
If you are already severely overweight increasing protein to 1-1.5grams/lb will provide satiety and allow for few additional calories from outside sources. Over time this amount of protein will be reduced or maintained depending on body weight in order to faciliate other nutrients but initially it will allow for weight loss and reduced hunger. With this amount of protein there will be no need to eat a bag of chips with every meal plus a soda plus a candy bar plus, plus, plus, you get the idea.

People are always concerned about fruits and veggies while eating so much protein and I find this funny because if they are overweight they are usually not eating anything good to begin with. They reference people on the high protein diets who look like skeletons and eventually gain all the weight back. I understand their concern as these diets tend to have a very limited selection of food and eating deli meat and chicken day in and day out gets old. Fortunately, this is not what I am advocating. Many of these high protein diets eschew fats and carbs, which is just ridiculous and a post for another time.

I inform clients the protein will be reduced eventually to a more modest amount and the way I do it allows them to still eat yummy fats so the meals actually have taste. The higher protein figures are usually for those attempting to put on muscle or lose weight. For those attempting to simply remain lean the lower end of the scale, .8grams/lb seems to be adequate to maintain muscle and avoid the pitfalls of dieting. This assumes that the person is active. If training is minimal than more protein is actually required to maintain the lean muscle you already have. The problem is the lower you get with protein consumption the more likely you are to overconsume other macronutrients and thus weight gain returns. You have to determine the ideal amount of protein for your body and the easiest way to do this is to start high and reduce the amount over time.

Another concern is all the hype regarding kidney issues with high protein consumption. This issue has been debunked as a myth in much of the scientific literature, another study showing no health concerns. The only people that have problems with increased protein consumption are those with renal failure or pre-existing kidney conditions. Healthy kidneys will not have a problem with increased protein consumption any more than my bicep will with increased weight. In fact, increased protein consumption has many health benefits.

How do I make certain that micronutrients are kept high so there are no negative health consequences for those concerned about their fruit and veggie intake? I utilize different supplements to arrive at optimal health and fitness. Spirulina is a supplement I recommend for all my clients. It has every micronutrient required by the body in the correct ratios. I won't break Spirulina down here because that is a whole post in itself but I will recommend it to anyone over a multivitamin any day. I make certain to inform all my clients to take it as a food and not a supplement. By taking it as a food I mean consuming it in quantities greater than recommended. Since it is a food, an algae to be exact, there is no fear of toxicity or side effects. Begin slowly with the recommended dosages and work your way into the higher ranges of anywhere from 10-20 grams a day. This will provide the body with more goodness than it knows what to do with and will assist in weight loss and overall health plus feed your muscles what they need to function at the highest levels. To read more about the Spirulina I recommend follow this link.

The point is protein regulates calorie consumption and the higher the intake the less chance you have of feeling hungry. Concerns for eating too much protein are far outweighed by the fact that reduced caloric consumption of less healthy foods leads to a better quality of life. Supplementing with products like spirulina will only increase the amount of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and the like of dietary fruits and veggies. I love fruits, I love veggies, so my protocol does not consist of eliminating these. On the contrary, I eat quite a bit of both but they do require cycling depending on your goals. Email me for a consultation if you want to take your gains All The Way!

Don't Be A Form Nazi

I talk a lot about correct form around here and while this is important I did want to provide some additional insight concerning being too strict. I hear all the time that correct form is necessary for muscle growth but truth be told form is not neccessary to see gains.

Have you ever seen someone with terrible form who happens to be a monster? Some of this is partially genetic but mostly those huge gains come from simply lifting more weight over time. True, that individual may blow a disc or rotator cuff in the near future but bodybuilders run this risk with their training routines all the time. Bodybuilders as opposed to strength training or olympic training operate with different form in order to hit muscles in a way to achieve maximum gain. This does not always protect the muscles or joints in the way that regular strength training teaches.

Im not suggesting to compromise form in order to make gains but I am on the edge when it comes to reaching the next level. My concern for correct form falls into 90-95% of your training. Don't ever compromise form during the majority of your sets but don't be a form nazi when it comes to those last few reps.

The last few reps when you are feeling the "pump" is when you will make your gains and induce muscle hypertrophy. This will propel you to the next level in your training. The majority of trainees shy away from these last few reps because this is when you really feel the pain in your routine and form begins to deteriorate. It is this point in training that will seperate those that reach their goals and those that remain average. When you are reaching the end of your set, your muscles are burning and form is beginning to compromise; do not be afraid to squeeze out those last 2 reps. Many trainers will disagree on this point and instruct you to stop when your form is compromised. I will agree that for the majority of your sets this is the point where you stop.

There is a fine line and it has to be judged on a case by case basis. If you are squatting and another rep is severely compromising form I am not suggesting you proceed. Many of these compound lifts involving the lower back such as the squat and dead lift can be dangerous for the novice. However, if you are finishing a set of rows or chin ups or DB flys to failure (usually your first/last set) do not be terribly concerned if you are not getting 100% range of motion and locking out after each rep. The bend your arms form from not completely locking out will not slow your progress. On the contrary, these last few reps will increase strength. This in turn will allow for increased reps with reduced weight on subsequent sets because of the gains you make with those last few reps.

You will know if your form has fallen apart or if you are just holding it together. Do not be He-man and attempt reps when you have clearly lost all control but don't be She-ra either, make the call. I have taken heat for such views from others in the field but in order to progress you need to be able to show gains and this sometimes must be done by sacrificing some form. Notice I said some form. Do not make poor form a staple in your routine but understand that the final reps to failure will require some leeway in the perfect form. Be safe and take your workout All The Way.

Intermittent Fasting: What Is It And Why Should I Do It?

People always ask me how I remain lean and muscular. When I tell them I fast they are immediately turned off because there is no way it can be healthy and they would be too hungry to do it. Fact is those "facts" they claim are just untrue and science has already proven this to be the case.

What Is It?

Intermittent fasting (IF) has many different followings. Some people will fast for a few days a month, others will fast every other day (alternate day fasting or ADF), some will fast for 1 or 2 days a week and so on. I realized that none of these were for me simply because I enjoy eating and because I knew that not eating for a whole day would get in the way of social obligations. Then I came across a different approach advocated by a trainer by the name of Mark Berkhan that he referred to as the lean gains approach. He really likes to dig into the science behind intermittent fasting and has broken it down quite nicely. Truth be told I responded to it better than I thought I would.

The approach is simple and is a good middle ground for those who understand the health benefits of fasting (which we will address in detail in the future) as well as those looking to lose weight but maintain muscle mass. I utilize a 16/8 split in the day in which I fast and then eat. For 16 hours I eat nothing and then I have an 8 hour feeding window.

For instance my day looks like this:

530am - get up and go to the gym (3 days a week)
745am - off to work
12-1pm - I eat for the first time
3-5pm - will eat again if I am eating 3 meals this day
5-7pm - I have my final meal, which can end up ending around 8pm.

After 8pm I am done eating for the day. There are little tricks here and there but this is the gist of it. The most important thing to remember is that fasting and the benefits that come along with it are not an on/off switch. I usually have coffee in the morning because it is a mild appetite suppressant and because it has some effect on increasing metabolic rate. Beyond that it is pretty much water, more coffee or tea until lunch. People tend to confuse thirst with hunger and libations tend to reduce hunger until you eat. There are other hormones involved in this hunger process that will adjust to your new eating schedule in a few days such as ghrelin so you won't feel hungry.

What I have found is an ability to eat without fear of weight gain. Those attempting to lose weight will have a stricter diet than someone attempting to maintain a weight. For instance, if I am attempting to lose 20lbs as a 200lb 6ft male I am probably only going to be eating 1500-1800 calories a day. This will allow for weight loss at a timely rate along with additional exercise to assist in lean muscle gain. After that time when the weight goal has been reached a slight increase in calories would not tailspin the gains made and a more modest caloric consumption anywhere from 2000-2500 could be used to maintain weight. It depends on many factors but many of my clients have not had issues with feeling satiated or excessively hungry.

Why Should I Do It?

This is the most frequent question I receive. Many clients automatically believe what I say to be gospel but I encourage them to read the literature (or my site) on their own for the science behind it. After all, I couldn't say it if it wasn't true right? Sadly most of the misinformation in the world of weight loss and training is regurgitated by personal trainers and weight loss gurus who don't really have a grasp on the science and spew whatever they are told. This is true when you hear anything from "you're in starvation mode" to "eat 6 small meals a day or else your metabolism will drop."

Truth be told there are many health benefits to IF and this is just a small list:

The list goes on and on but suffice to say that fasting improves biohealth markers overall and upregulates the hormones and pathways necessary to facilitate weight loss.

Anecdotally I have utilized this approach for some time and found stubborn body fat easier to eliminate with my clients without the hardships associated with a typical calorie restrictive diet. There are other tiny tricks to facilitate weight loss and increase lean muscle mass but the gist of the whole process is simple. Fast for 16 hours and then eat during the 8 hour eating window. Obviously focus on higher protein, lower carbohydrate meals as this will increase satiety and reduce unwanted calories. The easiest way to do this is to simply avoid grains and get your carbs from fruits and veggies as we have discussed before. Cycling macronutrients around days of exercise is another way to favor upregulation of fat loss hormones and we will discuss that in the future.

Hope this helped everyone with basic questions. I will continue to dig deeper into the whys and hows and feel free to send your questions as I know this was very basic but was simply meant to be an overview on what I have experienced and seen. Just remember to take your work out All The Way!

Walking Is Dead

Apparently even walking has become too tough for some people, thank god for todays motorized shoes. Although walking is not considered exercise in many circles it does actually have merit in weight loss. Consider that energy expenditure of walking varies by mass and speed and you can assume that an average adult weighing 160lbs and walking a modest 3-3.5mph will burn 4-5 calories a minute. Therefore a brisk walk for 30 minutes will yield 150 calories burned. Thats not bad when accompanied by a dietary calorie deficit as it will speed weight loss.

Many people ignore this insight simply because they feel running is the only true way to lose weight but running also tends to increase appetite and thereby calorie consumption. Instead of running at 7mph and increasing energy expenditure to 300 calories in 30 minutes along with your appetite why not just walk for an hour?

Anyway, its a sad day when motorized shoes eliminate yet another way people can get out and get some exercise but thats apparently how our obese society wants it.

Green Polka Dot Box Launches!

Anyone who follows this site knows that I am a huge proponent of healthy, organic living. It is no surprise that your fitness results will be largely determined by your diet and anyone who reads my work knows that. Diet will be responsible for 80-90% of your body image results regardless of your workout plan. This is why you see the same people in the gym showing little or no visible results over time, they have never corrected their diet.

With that said today is a big day. THE GREEN POLKA DOT BOX HAS LAUNCHED! This new company is hot and ready to make headlines. The GPDB is a company that is an online buyers club offering healthy (mostly organic) products direct to consumers. It functions the same as a Sams or Costcos by removing the middle man and requiring a small fee to join. By paying a small annual fee you are lowering their overhead costs so that you can buy these organic products at a discounted price direct from producers. Basically you get Whole Foods products at up to 60% off! They have indicated they will have fresh produce direct from organic farms coming in 2012!

Now this is a big deal. Most people do not eat organic because it is too expensive but now these same people can obtain organic products at a fraction of the cost, maybe even cheaper than conventional foods. Not only are these products up to 60% off but shipping is free if the order is over $150. With many of these products at prices below Whole Foods prices you can see how these savings can actually reduce the cost of your groceries while allowing you to eat better. Organic foods are far superior to conventional foods not only in nutritional content but also because they do not have any chemicals that will disrupt your fitness goals.

The Green Polka Dot Box provides Non-GMO products that are all natural, already certified organic or in the process of being certified organic. They are being assisted by numerous other big name health sites such as NaturalNews, Organic Consumers Association, and The Institute for Responsible Technology among many others.

There are many different reward programs and membership plans so visit their site by clicking here and get started on your fitness goals by eating better at costs more reasonable to your wallet. Note: this is not an MLM, it is an online buyers club.

Rick Rubins Amazing Weight Loss Overshadowed By His Weak Training Regiment

Read an interesting article recently in Mens Journal regarding Rick Rubin and his dramatic weight loss. He too was stuck in the myth that being vegan is super healthy and the best way to live. The problem with this line of thought is, like he indicated, it is one long chase to get the amount of protein necessary to thrive and requires copious amounts of time preparing food, which is true for going raw or being a vegetarian. We get into pitfalls regarding diets without meat elsewhere and will tackle it in future articles.

While I don’t have any problem with people choosing to follow a meal plan that suits them it is invariably easier, both to prepare and sustain oneself, following a diet more akin to our ancestors consisting of animal protein alongside fruits and vegetables. Yes, you can live on plant based diets and many of my clients do. It just requires a bit more attention to the foods you consume and most times supplementation to reach optimal levels of health.

The article is interesting and worth a read because it is not simply about Ricks eating habits but also his exercise habits, which are suited to someone simply trying to lose weight and gain some athleticism but leaves much to be desired. True its different but thats not always necessary or even best. If you are trying to build muscle and want a rounded physique you are going to have to pick up the iron plain and simple. Beyond that most people simply want to be able to lift their groceries and grandchildren without crippling themselves and Ricks regiment is not setting him up for that as we will learn.  

Even though Rick Rubins trainer is the famed Laird Hamilton, whom I greatly respect, I do take a few issues with some of his current eating and training practices. First he favors protein shakes. He apparently is having close to seven a day. While this isn’t going to kill you it is going to cause problems for those attempting a social life. Going to lunch with a friend and watching them eat chicken piccata while you slowly sip on your 12 ounce protein shake is ridiculous. Its awkward and I don’t care what anyone says; its not as satisfying as real food. Sure, its good in a jam or if you want to squeeze in some extra protein for the day but its not practical.

Secondly, these protein powders are processed foods. Its not a McDonalds cheeseburger and these days the protein quality is relatively high but its still highly processed and there have been issues with protein powders testing very high in heavy metals. I’m talking serious metals here. In a Consumer Reports test on 15 popular protein powders all of the drinks had “at least one sample with arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury, heavy metals.” Many bodybuilding aficionados will eschew this topic but I consider this a serious issue with my clients because it does them no good to get into great shape only to increase the load of toxic metals in their body. These heavy metals will hamper health and lead to a deterioration of all their hard won gains in the future. Of course you can find pharmaceutical grade powders that will be of higher quality, which are used in clinical settings and will provide you with protein without concern for your health such as designs for health or Xymogen but these powders will not be in the normal persons budget to eat seven times a day. The weird thing is Rick eats organic foods but will suck down synthetic shakes. I can’t vouch for the exact brand he uses but I want to make others aware of the dangers since most of my clients will run out and buy the cheapest thing on the shelf.

I will also disagree with some of his training practices. While it is true that monotony leads to boredom and will cause many trainees to quit it is also necessary to achieve results. I don’t see Rick with a barrel chest and rippling six pack after all. He may be able to balance on a stupid ball while curling ten pounds and staring in the mirror but who cares? If you want to get ripped and get it right the first time around you have to follow some form of routine that consists of the same lifts over time. The silly notion of “confuse your muscles” may carry over into sport specific training but not for building lean muscle. The “confusion” for the muscle comes from increasing the weights, reps, sets not from switching up the workout every other day. The only way you can judge progress and show results is by following a plan and recording your efforts. Lifting 100 pounds one week and then guessing what to lift next week does not show progression or results, it simply equates to wasted time. Only after mastering the “basics” consisting of chin ups, bench press, dead lifts, squats, presses and rows should you be fooling around with sport specific training unless your goals are endurance or basic fitness. If you want to be shredded and functionally fit you have to have a plan. These basic lifts are the gold standard for any professional athlete and the same professionals always return to the basics at some point in time no matter how much sport specific training they do.

I will admit changing it up and working balance along with strength will show improved sport specific results but it won’t make you look good naked. I don’t care how many golf balls you stand on while juggling ping pong balls and doing squats on a BOSU ball, you won’t look like Wolverine until you lift heavy and correctly with the fundamental lifts. Hamilton can get as many workout routines from his dreams as he likes but I guarantee he is in the weight room as least once in awhile and when he isn’t he is on his land in Hawaii moving the earth with movements equivalent to the fundamental lifts, fact. So while Rick is probably in the best shape of his life he isn’t putting on the lean muscle that science dictates is necessary for longevity.

The real problem I have not starting with the fundamental lifts I mentioned does not have anything to do with building lean muscle mass but with making the body strong to avoid injury. I have great concern for building strength on top of dysfunction. Ricks story is telling as at the end of the article the writer informs us that Rick "threw his back out" exercising. This could be anything from a strain to a ruptured disc, we didn't get details. This may not be a big deal to Rick who can recuperate in his own time and take it easy but for those who don't have his lifestyle being down and out for six to twelve weeks depending on the injury is devastating. This not only compromises your life on a day to day basis but sets you back to zero with your training goals. A properly conditioned client who has mastered the basic lifts will have a base of strength on which to build and will be much less prone to injury. I'm glad this was mentioned in the article because it is a common pitfall for those beginning training or working with trainers who don't start with these fundamentals. The reader, seeing what Rick has done might just go out and start throwing around 100 pound tires assuming this will get him fit and subsequently throw his back out as well. If you are working with someone who tells you that the fundamentals I have mentioned are not necessary for your training goals you should run the other way because you are most likely headed toward a future injury, famous trainer or not.

I applaud Rick Rubin for coming around and getting his life back but I don’t know if I agree with all of his current regiments. I would recommend whole foods; getting protein from animal sources like poultry, beef and eggs because these provide an abundance of fresh vitamins, minerals and fats that no protein powder can provide as well as a satiety that won’t require you to eat seven times a day. You also won’t have to look like an idiot at dinner drinking your shake while your friends eat a steak. I would also recommend he at least complete 8-12 weeks of a training program consisting of the basic lifts to build lean muscle and then fool around with the balancing act. Unless he is training for the circus his work out regiment is not doing much beyond getting his heart rate up.

Targeting Body Fat

Yesterday I attended the Spectra Wellness open house and it was great. Lots of good vendors with worthwhile products and services. Most notably Dr George Springer, who is an applied kinesiologist and chiropractor among many other titles who does some serious work with muscle testing, a subject best left for another article. There was also designs for health, which has some quality protein supplements, bars and other goodies.

I do some consulting for this office and had a discussion with a nurse and vendor there concerning some different training techniques. Specifically I was asked about a few things I want to address here. This nurse is a petite woman who is planning to attend a family vacation in the near future in a warm climate where clothes will likely be minimal and has done some great work with her boyfriend to reduce her body fat percentage and increase her overall fitness. She asked me what I would recommend to really target the outside of her thighs. This is a question I hear quite often from woman and is a loaded question for a few reasons:

  1. Targeting muscles is mainly used to increase symmetry for bodybuilders or strength goals in dedicated lifters but serves little purpose in a training session for overall strength or lean mass especially for those just beginning a work out program.
  2. You can not “spot reduce” fat in any part of your body.

So the gist of my explanation was that, in all due respect, you have to “unfatten” yourself. Now this is a great lady and in a discussion about fitness and weight loss there is no ill will in telling someone who is attempting to reach a goal that they are fat in a certain area. We aren’t breaking a client down like a college sorority. Some clients will take offense if it is presented in this manner but most people already training understand and accept this conversation because after all they have recognized they are overweight and are already in the process of doing something about it.

With that said there are only two ways a muscle can go. It either increases or decreases in size with training or lack there off. This does little to remove the body fat surrounding any area of the body. This is why you see the guy in the gym crunching with a 45lb weight, then doing hanging leg raises, then side crunches, then decline situps, etc ad nauseum that still has a massive stomach. For some reason this guy thinks he is going to lose his gut and have a rippling 6 pack by wasting hours each week targeting his abs with crazy fad ab work outs. Sure they have their place in functional training but if the goal is to really define a muscle that is covered under fat then the solution is, drum roll please… weight loss! Many people do not have a way to diet properly that allows them to continue to do so for the long haul. A diet has to be sustainable and is more accurately referred to as a meal plan than dieting because its how you are going to eat from here on out. Regardless of what you call it, weight loss is only attained through a calorie deficit and most people have no idea on how to go about this properly or for more than a few months if lucky. Luckily, I do consultations for training programs and meal plans in person or via email.  

I explained this briefly and the nurse was receptive and might pursue other changes in her workout or diet. What she is currently doing seems to be working for her and since there is no one size fits all approach I agreed that continuing is better than switching it up. If she plateaus and is seeing little improvement for a period of more than 4 weeks then a change would be necessary. She has already made tremendous gains based on what she indicated her starting point was and this is consistent with newbie training, significant gains being made in the first 8 weeks due to neurological adaptations to training and basic monitoring of her diet. The hard to hit regions of fat loss for woman happen to be the buttocks and thigh areas where she indicated she was having the most trouble and reducing this fat is a slow process.

Do not confuse what I am saying here. I have many programs targeted to specific body goals and one of the main goals for woman is to tighten the glutes and reduce fat in the thighs. Consider that if you run on a treadmill and burn approximately 300 calories but increase your appetite due to ongoing cardio and eat an additional 300 calories you are not going to be losing weight, its simple math. I encourage all my clients to track their eating, it is the only way to determine how many calories are going in and most people underestimate their caloric intake and overestimate their caloric output, fact. This study specifically addressed such discrepancies and found that on average people assume their energy expenditure is 3 to 4 fold what it actually is. Some participants assumed a brisk walk of 30-45 minutes was burning 3000-4000 calories! When asked to consume food consistent with what they perceived to have just expended they overate by approximately the same amount! Sites like Fitday are free sites that give you a very general estimate of your daily calories in and out. I am very successful with my clients in attaining the results they seek but 80% or more of these results are due to diet alone. The rest is just hard work and consistency over time.

Run on the treadmill till your dead if you like, crunch yourself into a pretzel if you like to “feel the burn” but in the end your abs will only pop and your legs will only have that tight look if you have “unfattened” yourself. The only way to do that is to get that fat mobilized by reducing your caloric intake over time and being consistent in your training.