Category Archives: PFACT OR PFICTION

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Formula for Success

goal“If you take your eyes off the goal, for even a second, doubt will rush your mind like a band of brutal thieves.”

Doubt intends to kill your dreams, destroy your desire, and beat you down with fear.  Evidence of this is obvious in the most trying times.  When we are hungry, when we are tired, when we are angry, when we are in despair…

arnold Be Hungry

When you are hungry, let that hunger be your purpose.  It is a burning reminder in your gut of what you want to accomplish. When you are tired and your eyes grow heavy, don’t be the martyr the world excuses you to be, no one owes you anything. If there is something you want, you stay up one more hour and you go out and get it!

Be Productive

train like you want itAnger?, rage? Make it productive, and focus the intensity of this moment into success instead of resentment.  No one can control your emotions but you.  And when you are in complete despair — Stop. Shhhhh. Be still, and listen.  You are more than “just being”. You have the potential to be even more than your desires. You have the ability to accomplish things you havent even dreamed of …yet.

One of my favorite quotes of all time comes by way of the late Henry Ford.  He reminds us that we can decide what happens next… he said “he who thinks he can, and he who thinks he can’t, are usually both right“.

Go Beyond 

“Attaining the goal isn’t success.  Success is found in the pursuit, attaining your goals is the icing on this cake we call life.”

Work harderLastly, it isn’t enough to just dream. I love visualization. Wondering what if, thinking just maybe…  Hoping, even praying, for that desire of your heart.  Instead of praying for “the goal”, pray for the opportunity to make a way for your goal. The satisfaction of accomplishment comes in the effort – the blood, the sweat, the tears, the years, in pursuit of the “goal”.  Attaining the goal isn’t success.  Success is found in the pursuit, attaining your goals is the icing on this cake we call life.

“Vision without execution is just hallucination” Henry Ford

Equation for Success

FitFluential LLC compensated me for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. #LiveWithFire

Sculpting Better Legs: Simple Leg Workout to Improve Your “Sweep”

vastus lateralisIf you have been following this mess I call a blog at all for the last 5 months you may have heard me whine and whine about my knee. If not, you’re in luck because here I go again.  5 months ago I was getting ready for my first ever MMA tournament.  I know,… shut it! But anywho, I was gonna try. Here’s a shocker: my 42-year-old butt got tore up by a 19-year-old monster.  I tore my medial meniscus and sustained a 90% tear to my MCL.  I was devastated, but now I’m back and I want to not only return to competing, I want my quads bigger and stronger than ever. The area I want to focus on for this workout is the Vastus Lateralis, the largest and most outer portion of the thigh.

How to Improve Your Sweep

Bikini competitors legsHow do we isolate out the vastus lateralis muscle, or as we call it in the physique world, “the sweep”?  Vastus externus or vastus lateralis, depending on your A&P professor, is the largest of all the quadricep muscles. The action of this muscle is to extend the tibia or shin bone at the knee, but I’m here to help you learn how to perform knee extension to isolate out the other muscles that synergistically aid in this action.  In sculpting, it is very important that we learn isolation. Whether we are a bodybuilder, a bikini competitor or a stay-at-home mom that wants to scult their body, we can all use these principles to learn to sculpt nicer legs.

Target Training

target fatFat burn or spot reducing fat  can not be limited to specific areas of the body, no matter what  “bogus science” and pills tell you. However, sculpting most assuredly can be reduced to a single area, action, and in some cases, specific fibers of a specific muscle – all based on how we execute the exercise.  You don’t need a degree in kinesiology to learn these principals, just a little common sense is all.

So, how do we excite and fatigue the fibers of our outer quad to hypertrophy our SWEEP?

Narrow-minded

Leg press sweepOk, so here is one exercise you should be narrow-minded about. Narrow is better when we talk about our stance to accentuate or facilitate the contractile tissue of the outer quad.  So lets think narrow when doing squats and leg extensions.  Whatever exercises you do, stand with a more narrow stance (feet together).  You may stop and ask, does that mean if I stand wide, I will work my inner thigh and medial quads?  Yeppers! Now you are getting it.  (another blog perhaps)  Moving on…

Self-Centered

building better legsWith leg extensions, it’s all about being self-centered – literally. If you point your toes outward, you are working the  vastus medialis, the tear drop shaped muscle on the medial side (inside) of the legs close to the knee. Since we want to work the opposite side of the legs, then (yes, you guessed it) we want to point our toes in the opposite direction, pointing toes together. Note: this doesn’t work by just pointing the feet from the ankle down, the whole leg must internally rotate to the center to excite the appropriate muscles.

Here is an example of my own leg workout where I use these same principles to improve my sweep.

Yesterday’s Leg Workout

Warm up:  4 sets / 20 reps  

Deep weighted walking lunges  (35-50 pound dumbbells) 45 seconds rest btw sets

Couplet: Leg Press & Leg Extension Super Set
(zero rest between super set, 1 minute between sets)

#1 Heavy leg press
5-8 plates each side, narrow stance (4″ apart) and push only on your heels
10 sets / 15 reps

#2 Moderately heavy leg extension
Moderately heavy leg extension (130lbs-160lbs) internally rotate your femur’s in (toes are pigeon-toed), and squeeze your outer quad in terminal extension.
10 sets / 12-15 reps

Repeat Super Set 10 Times

Puke and repeat for 10 rounds(sets) with 1 minute rest between (rounds) sets

Here are some pics from my last show, the Daytona Classic, just 10 days after getting hurt.

daytona classic

I Love Joe & Joe Loves Me!

Not the man, the drink! It’s my only real vice. Here’s why Joe is such a good friend…

I found this great article in Muscle Mag on the #1 stimulant in the world. Passing along!

Caffeine and Sports Performance

“Research provided by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has shown that ingestion of 3-9 mg of caffeine per kilogram (kg) of body weight one hour prior to exercise increased endurance running and cycling performance of well-trained, recreational athletes in the laboratory. This correlates to approximately 2-6 regular size cups of coffee.The common explanation to why endurance is improved with caffeine is that muscle glycogen is spared. Glycogen is the stored energy in the muscle tissue that is broken down during exercise. Studies suggest that glycogen sparing may occur as a result of caffeine’s ability to increase fat availability for skeletal muscle use.

Improvements have been shown in athletes that perform short-term intense (near maximal) exercise lasting approximately five minutes. The reason may be a direct effect of caffeine on muscle contraction during anaerobic exercise.” Written by Jeff Behar, MS, MBA   

ources of Caffeine Caffeine Content
Coffee
Plain, brewed 8 oz

135 mg

Instant 8 oz 95 mg
Espresso 1 oz 30-50 mg
Plain, decaffeinated 8 oz 5 mg
Tea
Green tea 8 oz 25-40 mg
Black tea 8 oz 40-70 mg
Soft Drinks
Coca-Cola Classic 12 oz 34.5 mg
Diet Coke 12 oz 46.5 mg
Dr. Pepper 12 oz 42 mg
Mountain Dew 12 oz 55.5 mg
Pepsi-Cola 12 oz 37.5 mg
Sunkist Orange 12 oz 42 mg
Energy Drink
Full Throttle, 16 oz 144 mg
Red Bull, 8.5 oz 80 mg
SoBe No Fear 158 mg
Chocolates or Candies
Candy, milk chocolate 1 bar (1.5 oz) 9 mg
Candy, sweet chocolate 1 bar (1.45 oz) 27 mg
Cocoa mix, powder 3 tsp 5 mg
Puddings, chocolate, ready-to-eat 4 oz 9 mg
Medicine: Over the Counter
Excedrin 65 mg
Bayer Select Maximum Strength 65.4 mg
Midol Menstrual Maximum Strength 60 mg
NoDoz 100 mg 32.4 mg
Pain Reliever Tablets 65 mg
Vivarin 200 mg

 Read the rest of the article

FAT VS MUSCLE PART 2: Is Your Workout Getting You Fat?

As I said in Muscle vs. Fat Part 1, “All excess unused calories will be stored in your body.  It’s up to you HOW they are stored.

Runners Store Fat

Running is an activity, requiring moderate  intensity performed over a longer duration. Runners primarily (especially in highly trained runners) use slow twitch, slow fatiguing muscle fibers.  The primary fuel source for this activity dictated by duration, intensity, and muscles fiber type used is fat stores. As a runner, excess muscle will only slow you down, and protein stores are very heavy and dense and will only yield 4 calories of energy per gram (that’s why a runner’s body typically doesn’t have a lot of muscle – your body doesn’t want it).  In comparison, fat will give the athlete over twice as much energy per gram, and metabolically takes less energy to maintain at rest (this is why your body hoards it, whether you burn it all off running or not).

So even with a higher protein diet, any excess calories stored are prone to be stored as fat.  It is primal…  It is science.  Your body is always efficiently meeting the demands you are putting on it.  Here is what happens…  As your muscle atrophies,  you become lighter, and as you store more fat, you can run longer.  Congratulations, you are now skinnier and fatter.

Your body doesn’t give a crap if you can win a hot body contest. It’s programed to keep you alive despite the demands and tasks you set before it.  How you feel you should look is solely up to psychological and social parameters we put on ourselves.  How you perform, on the other hand,  is up to the demands you put on your body.

Bodybuilders Store Muscle

Building muscle, in a biological environment,  is hard and plays against the odds.  The human body finds very little use for excess muscle as it is dense and not very efficient for survival or providing energy.  Yes, when these proteins are broken down, some of the amino acids can be used on a cellular level, but our body has amino acid pools that already exist for this and are an efficient storage system for this.

Excess striated skeletal muscle is left (stored) as a useless luxury at best.  It’s nice to look at, but after the body has enough skeletal muscle to move and function, the rest becomes very inefficient, energy-wasting luggage we must carry around all day everyday.   In order for you to quit storing much needed valuable fat, in leu of storing heavy useless muscle, you must create an alternate environment that will primally dictate some sort of need,  so your body will begin to store muscle instead of fat.  So, how can we make this happen?

3 ways to Store Muscle NOT Fat:

1. Take away the need for your body to store excess calories as fat. Do not use long bouts of running or moderately intense exercises to control your weight.  Restrict calories instead, and try intervals of sprinting or higher intensity shorter duration activities. (sorry runners)

Quit long distance running > 5 miles.

2. Restrict excess calories.  All excess calories can be stored as fat.  Even if all you eat is pure protein and green vegetables, if you eat more than you burn, you will store these extra calories as fat. We must decrease our sugars and make sure we are getting quality proteins and fats (mono/poly unsaturated fatty acids) to support protein synthesis.

Eat less simple carbohydrates and increase protein if need be.

3.  Train Hard. You won’t store muscle, unless uou give your body a reason and a need to store the extra calories as muscle by,  intense, short duration, resistance training.

Train with resistance and intensity. 

DISCLAIMER FOR HATERS:
This was written with the “big picture in mind and trying to stay under 1000 words,  It would be impossible to site and discuss micro metabolic science within these parameters.  So unless you find something butt-a#* wrong… don’t be a “douschtard”.

FAT VS MUSCLE PART 1: Weighing It Out

“The excess calories we eat, and how we train, determines if our body is going to store our excess calories as fat or muscle, that can later be used as energy if the need arises.”

MYTH BUSTER

The purpose of this blog is to break down some of the controversy and myths about muscle and fat. I want to clarify the different factors our bodies experience in order to gain, or lose, fat and muscle.  Also, we should understand the purpose of muscle and fat as it pertains to biological and  metabolic function.

Before we can continue, I want to differentiate between a pound of fat and a pound of human adipose tissue, as well as, the difference in a pound of muscle and a pound of protein.  But as we do, lets all agree that a pound is a pound is a pound.  Yes?  And science will tell us that 1 pound of anything will equal 453.59 grams when discussing gross weight.

FAT

It isn’t fair to say a pound of body fat is equal to a pound of pure fat.  Body fat is also called adipose tissue and is comprised of about 80% pure fat.  This is where the math finally works out.  If one pound equals 453.59 grams, and 1 gram of fat yields 9.3 calories, then 1 pound of fat should yield 4,218 calories of energy. (1 pound=453.59g’ X 9.3-cal = 4218 calories) Yet, we know a pound of fat only gives us 3500 calories worth of energy.  This is because the fat we are referring to is truly “adipose tissue” which is composed of other cellular derivatives besides just pure fat.

MUSCLE

Here is why simple math just wont work.  Again 1 pound of muscle is 453.59 grams, and if there are 4 calories in 1 gram of protein, 1 pound of muscle would yield 1814 calories of energy, yet it does not.  The real numbers are much smaller and very controversial, but we can ball park it close to 1000 calories when talking about striated skeletal muscle.  Mostly because 1 pound of skeletal muscle is comprised of more than just pure protein.  Just as body fat is only 80% true fat, skeletal muscle is made up of more than just protein.  Muscle tissue would include  glycogen, fat ,and water.  Muscle  is also full of a circulatory network, as well as tendons and other structures that wouldn’t fall into “just protein”.

The good news is we don’t have to kill ourselves to figure all of this out.  You are kidding yourself if you are trying to dissect your calories down to this microbiological level.  Spend your energy on the big picture, which is: What are these two substrates purposed for in our body as they relate to metabolism and building a physically fit physique?  FUEL!

FAT/PROTEIN = FUEL

Fat serves many purposes for the body from protecting our vital organs to providing energy, and muscle provides necessary hormones and cellular structures needed to live, even second to second.  However, for this discussion, fats and proteins are nothing more than fuel sources.  Any and all excess unused calories will be stored in your body.  It’s up to you HOW they are stored. The excess calories we eat and how we train determines if our body is going to store our excess calories as fat or muscle, that can later be used as energy if the need arises.

A FAT BODY
When When you see a 250 pound obese person, do you think that extra adipose tissue is vital for his existence?  Does his body need 100 extra pounds for warmth, digesting vitamins, or neural and cellular function?  The answer is no…

A MUSCULAR BODY
Ok, what about when you see a 250 pound body builder, do you think his body looks at the excess skeletal muscle as vital for life?  He surely doesn’t need 20 inch biceps to sustain life.    The answer is still no.   In each case, their respective bodies have stored the extra calories as either fat or muscle depending on the food and  environment that organism has been subject to.  And the muscle and fat, when needed, will be broken back down and used as life-sustaining energy… nothing more.

FAT VS MUSCLE: PART 2

My next blog will offer tips on how to make sure you store what you WANT, not what your body wants.

DISCLAIMER FOR HATERS:
This was written with the “big picture in mind and trying to stay under 1000 words,  It would be impossible to site and discuss micro metabolic science within these parameters.  So unless you find something butt-a#* wrong… don’t be a “douschtard”.

“TRUTH” – A Closer Look at Metabolism

When it comes to metabolism, the health and fitness community has redefined this term from its original definition.  This can be both bad and good.  Good as long as we all have a good understanding of how the word is being used in regards to transforming our bodies, bad when we use half of a clinical definition and half of the “en vogue slang” definition.. as this leads to using excuses in regards to weight loss.

Clinically, metabolism  is defined as  the  processes in any organism for cell growth, reproduction, response to external stimuli(environment), survival strategy, sustenance, and cellular maintenance.  It includes building up of the cell or organism (anabolism), and the breakdown of substances primarily for energy expenditure (catabolism).

By far, the number one excuse I hear when training a client for weight loss is… (drum roll… wait on it… waaaiiiit) yep’ you guessed it… “I just have a slow metabolism)  

Let’s Dig In
What they are really saying is “Steve, I’m eating more calories than I burn”.  The words that actually come out of their mouths are,  “I barely eat anything at all, and I still can’t lose weight”… Of course  I reply in compassion and love and say “so, if I drop you off on a deserted island with no food, and come back in two weeks, you will be the same weight or even a little heavier?”  At this point, If they don’t walk out of my office shooting me a bird then I know I might be making headway.

Allow me to give you a real world look at metabolism.  If two people are walking on a treadmill at the same speed and incline, and they weigh exactly the same, the amount of energy required to move their masses is significantly similar regardless of a fast or slow metabolism.  The deviation of calories burned would be negligible.  You might ask, what about heart rate?  I’ve heard many clients say, “the girl next to me burned a thousand calories in spin class and I only burned 250.  Is it because I have a slower metabolism?”  Of course not.  So what is going on?

Heart Rate Monitor vs Calories Burned
Heart rate monitors are being used as calorie counters because heart rate is a decent measure of effort.  However, it is only accurate in regards to the law of averages.  Heart rate monitors use certain statistical data based on age, weight, sex, height, and heart rate, to give the user an average number of calories expended as compared to other people who are statistically similar.  This is not accurate for people with higher than average (tachycardic) or slower than average (bardycardic) heart rates.

For example, if I sit on the couch with my twin brother (hypothetical brother) and we are both the same weight, as we sit,  our average caloric expenditure is going to be relatively the same, regardless if I just drank coffee and my heart is beating faster than his.  A faster heart rate doesn’t magically make an individual burn more calories.  Yes, on a miniscule non-significant scale their will be slight deviations in our basal metabolic rate, but negligible when compared to actual movement, and calories burned.  Movement will require the expense of a certain amount of energy, regardless of the “metabolism” of that mass.  It takes energy to move, period.

Thyroid Myths
What if I do have a thyroid problem?  If that is the case, the amount of calories it takes to move a 200 pound mass still doesn’t change.  You may be prone to move your mass slower,  or require more rest,  but the mass times the distance,  still dictates (more or less) the amount of energy required to move.  Science doesn’t discriminate.  Calculating the metabolic differences in individuals with slower metabolisms is miniscule when looking at the bigger picture.

When a client tells me they have a slow metabolism, knowing it or not,  they are usually referring to their basal metabolism.  Basal metabolism can clinically be defined as  the amount of energy needed to maintain essential body functions, such as respiration, circulation, temperature, peristalsis, and muscle tone., usually while at rest.  The “en vogue definition” and the way I see this term abused,  has come to mean something entirely different.  What is meant by “metabolism” is simply this “metabolism is the measurement of how prone we are to do work”.  

Indeed, certain processes in humans exist at different rates.  One person’s hair and nails may grow faster than another. Thus, increasing that individual’s metabolism – but this would lead to insignificant variation in caloric expenditure throughout the day. Persons with lower metabolisms will burn just as many calories when there bodies are in motion as another. The problem being,  people with slower metabolisms are less prone to desire to move, workout, or take part in physical activities.  They are more prone to a sedentary lifestyle that leads to even more weight gain.

Even at rest,  if someone with a slower basal metabolic rate does not exceed their caloric expenditure,  weight gain will not occur. If they eat below their caloric expenditure they will lose weight.  It’s just science.  So, if you have not lost weight in the last week, (regardless of your math and how great you think you eat) your average consumption has equaled, or exceeded, your expenditure.

Stimulate Your Metabolism
We can alter your metabolism two primary ways.  Chemically, with food and drugs, or mechanically, with movement or exercise.  Both will produce the breakdown of substrates and cells for energy (catabolism). For instance, after sleeping all night, when you wake, your body is in a fasting state and your metabolism is at an all time low. We need to either break the fast (breakfast) or start moving (morning jog).  Either one of these choices are very effective in stimulating your metabolism (being prone to to want to move).  If our goal is weight loss, feeding ourselves to increase our metabolism may be counter-productive.

If you are one that is struggling with your metabolism, please just start moving.  The best way to stimulate your metabolism is to just get going.  Movement is addictive and coupled with eating less, movement is the most effective way to lose weight and change your life style forever. Let’s  get going!!!!

Majoring in the Minors

Yesterday I saw this young guy with a completely trashed car that barely ran, and he put at least $2000 dollars worth of “spinner” rims on it?  I even saw someone wearing target jeans, and when I looked down they had on $200 dollar shoes?…  Okay, bad example, cause I do that… but you get what I mean.. right?

What does this have to do with fitness?  (Insert soap box)  I can’t tell you the countless times I’ve been at the gym and have seen the meticulous biomechanical strategies that some people come up with to make their lifting routine more effective, or the countless times I’ve listened to people who are extremely overweight, discuss food on a totally microbiological level.  Instead of looking at calories, they are “buggn” about if it is free range or not.   I am not arguing that biomechanics and microbiology doesn’t have a place in training and nutrition, but by god-man,  look at the bigger picture.

I call this “majoring in the minors”.  As a trainer, blogger, or just exercise enthusiast, it is so vital that we realize the importance of fundamentals.  My back ground is very clinical, but I have never deviated from the application of fundamentals.  I am not saying that details are not important, however, $2000 dollars worth of wheels and tires on a $300 dollar car is a waisted investment.

Biomechanics: When you evaluate your body and decide you want to tone and tighten specific areas, start with the basics.  There is no need to do complicated movements when your time and energy will be better suited using fundamentals.  i.e. you want to tone your glutes.  Let’s begin with squats,lunges, and maybe straight leg dead lifts.  Why begin with 1 legged Romanian dead lifts or cook hip lifts, when simple basics will reach deep fibers at rich angles and are superior to intricate complicated movements.  Do these other exercises have their place?… Of course, but after exhausting the basics!

Take home:  When you sit on a machine for the first time, do it as designed.  Do not begin to invent your own way or make up a complicated movement to target some erroneous area of musculature.

Nutrition: Many people, in there quest to find the “right diet”, dissect micro-nutrition to a fault.  At the end of the day (listen Paleo Freaks) no matter how clean you eat, if your caloric intake exceeds your out put, you are going to store energy.  Your body prefers to store energy as fat because, for the same amount in grams stored, your body can yield twice as much energy from fat as glycogen or lean muscle.  This my friends is MACRO-nutrition.  It is the science of metabolism of  four general substrates: Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats, and Alcohols.  If you are eating more calories than you burn, regardless of your “blood type’, “zone”, “points” or any other thing else you measure… LISTEN… YOU WILL GAIN WEIGHT!

Take home: Before you get involved in vitamins and minerals, the ph of your blood, even the glycemic index of foods, first figure out how many calories you burn per day, and eat less than that.  It’s just science.  Anyone who challenges this statement (Dousch-tard) would be saying, “if you are dropped off on a deserted island for two weeks, with nothing but water, and luckily found, you would have not lost any weight”. 

Fitness is simple guys… Our industry makes it complicated.  Quit  looking for the magic bullet, trying to find the “little pill”, or doing the perfect gluteal exercise for 30 seconds every morning.  You give me fundamentals, hard work, and discipline… And I’ll give you your magic bullet!

“The magic bullet IS fundamentals, hard work, and discipline.”

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