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How To Get Leaner

Fitness Tips For 3/30/2011
____________________________________________

How To Get Leaner

1. Make your last meal the smallest - there is a tendency to want to
binge-eat during the late night hours especially as we unwind in
front of the television and the computer. Rats given the same amount
of calories a day increased their weight by 48% simply by eating
large final meals late at night.

2. Move for thirty consecutive minutes a day - Any extra calories
burned adds up and experts at the CDC and National Institute of Health
(USA) recommends that every adult should engage in 30 minutes or more
of moderate-intensity physical activity every day of the week. One of
the ways in which individuals can meet this standard is to walk 2
miles briskly (about 4 miles/hr). If this is too fast, choose a more
comfortable pace.

3. Don't expect miracles - One pound of fat is equivalent of about
3,500 calories. To burn that amount of calories you need to make
a small calorie deficit every day that adds up over a period of time
whilst also including building some muscle mass to improve the way
the body metabolizes fat. This does not happen overnight. If it
does, you’re probably just losing water weight, which is not healthy
for overall bodily functions. The average fat loss someone should
expect is roughly 1-3 pounds a week depending on how overweight
the individual is. Anymore than that is not healthy. Fat is not
gained overnight, and cannot be lost overnight.

4. Know what chemicals are in your food - Most people don't
understand that vegetable oil is a chemical and there is no such
thing as a canola plant. These and other chemicals such as
preservatives, additives and flavor enhancers such as high fructose
corn syrup can lead to fat gain. The bottom line is eat natural
foods.

5. Do not think that lifting light weights with high reps will make
you lean - Muscle, once the fat is stripped away, looks like muscle.
The lactic acid burn one receives from high repetitions is not fat
magically melting away but the body’s acidic. Most people abdominals
are hidden by a layer of fat and it is through correct eating combined
with strength training and cardiovascular exercise that will bring out
your six-pack abs.

Bodybuilding for Baby Boomers

> Bodybuilding for Baby Boomers
> by Paul Becker
>
> I have been lifting weights since I was 16 years old, and now that I
> am quickly approaching 50 I’d like to share some of my thoughts on
> bodybuilding for baby boomers. I also happen to think the tips below
> are good advice for anyone old or young.
>
> Don't do exercises that bother your joints or tendons, find a
> substitute exercise that works better for you. For example, after I
> turned 40 the barbell bench press irritated my shoulders too much,
> but I can do the dumbbell bench press and dips with no problems.
>
> Work the muscle rather then just moving a heavy weight from point A
> to point B. There is no reason to impress anyone by trying to lift
> more then you can in good form, lighten the weight up and bit and
> really feel the muscle as you use slower perfect reps, you will
> actually build more muscle this way.
>
> Strive to get leaner muscle rather then building up. Not only is it
> healthier but it looks better. A much smaller physique that is
> ripped always looks better then a bigger but smoother body. A very
> wise trainer once told me "If you lose 20 lbs and get ripped, when
> you take your shirt off people with think you gained 20 pounds
> because you will look more muscular".
>
> You don't get leaner by doing high reps that is a myth. It is done
> by changing the way you eat, not only eating less but also by
> avoiding the foods that cause your body to store fat such as sugar,
> wheat, grains and milk products. Stick to lean proteins such as egg
> whites, chicken, turkey and fish along with plenty of fresh raw
> vegetables and fruits. Not only is this a healthy way to eat but you
> will also get leaner without starving yourself.
>
> Be sure to do some form of cardio exercise such as power walking,
> swimming, bike riding or every circuit training or just by resting
> less between sets this will up your metabolism and keep your heart
> healthy.
>

Neck Workout

Neck Workout
 
Your neck is a very important area to exercise. Your neck muscles  should be strong to prevent injury as any injury to this part  of your body can lead to all kinds of problems. The size of  the neck and surrounding muscles is also important in the sport  of bodybuilding, in fact for most bodybuilders the neck is their most under emphasized body part.
 
 Neck Training Exercises
 
 Most neck training exercises can be performed using manual  resistance (added pressure from yourself or your training partner) or with reasonably light weights.
 
 Manual Resistance Exercises
 
 Warning: Manual resistance can still cause injuries if done  haphazardly. Manual resistance should be used on all four sides of the neck, this will help develop all of the
 neck muscles.
 
 Place hands, or have ptraining partner place hands, against the front, sides and back of the neck and apply pressure.
 
Resist this pressure with the neck. This exercise can also  be done with a towel for added pressure (pulling as opposed  to pushing). Maintain the resistance for at least 15 seconds  and increase this time each session.
 
 Neck Training Program With Weights
 
 1. Weighted head tilting.
 
 Lie on a bench with your head off the edge. Place a weight  plate on the top of the head over a soft towel for padding.  Holding the weight plate in place with your hands, bend at  your neck forward and back, using your neck to perform the  exercise. Your hands are only iuused to hold the weight  on your head securely. Do all four sides for 2-3 sets 10-12  reps.
 
 2. Barbell or Dumbbell Shrugs.
 
 Hold a babell or a pair of dumbbells palms inward at arms'  length at the sides, lower your arms as far as possible,  then shrug the shoulders up as far up as possible.
 Complete 2 to 3 sets of 8-12 reps.
 
 3. Upright Rowing.
 
 Grasp a barbell with a fairly close grip, raise the bar to  chin height. Keep your elbows above bar level at all times.  Do 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps.

Heart Health Tips

Heart Health Tips
 
 Here are just a few heart health tips, but first you must understand  the basics of heart health. Having a healthy heart depends to a  large extend on the health of the cardiovascular system as a whole.
 
 This means that blood flows freely through unobstructed veins and  arteries, carrying nutrients throughout the body. The blood vessels  are free of plaque and cholesterol blockages. Blood pressure is low  so that there is no undue strain on the heart as pumps blood  throughout the body.
 
 Heart health tip no.1 - the best way to ensure a healthy heart is  through aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise gets the blood flowing.  It also helps to raise levels of "good" cholesterol in the blood.  Aerobic exercise involves using large muscle groups and burning  calories. It includes walking, jogging, and cycling, among other
 activities. No matter what kind of exercise you decide to do,  you’ll be doing your heart a great favor.
 
 Tip no.2 - your heart needs healthy nutrition. Eating plans that  promote the health of the heart are low in fat and cholesterol,  low in sodium and high in antioxidant nutrients and fiber. Lean  meats, fruits and vegetables are the staples of a diet that  maintains a healthy heart. Supplements, like antioxidants and others, can also help you feed your heart well.

For more information go to
> http://www.jamnfitness.com/andro-sh.htm


Chicken and Blueberry Pasta Salad Recipe

 Chicken and Blueberry Pasta Salad

Quick Info:

<!-- Quick Info -->
 Servings
Quick Meal
Contains Wheat/Gluten
Contains Dairy
Heart-Healthy
Diabetes-Friendly
<!-- Nutritional Info -->
Nutritional Info (Per serving):
Calories: 315, Saturated Fat: 3g, Sodium: 238mg, Dietary Fiber: 5g, Total Fat: 11g, Carbs: 33g, Cholesterol: 49mg, Protein: 23g
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 50 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 pounds chicken, breast, boneless, skinless, trimmed of fat
  • 8 ounce(s) pasta, whole-wheat, fusilli, or radiatore
  • 3 tablespoon oil, olive, extra virgin
  • 1 large shallot(s), thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup(s) broth, reduced-sodium chicken
  • 1/3 cup(s) cheese, feta, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 cup(s) blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon thyme, fresh, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest, freshly grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
<!-- Recipe Tip --><!-- Preparation -->

Preparation

1. Place chicken in a skillet or saucepan and add enough water to cover; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently until cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool. Shred into bite-size strips.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta until just tender, about 9 minutes or according to package directions. Drain. Place in a large bowl.
3. Meanwhile, place oil and shallot in a small skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just beginning to brown, 2 to 5 minutes. Add broth, feta and lime juice and cook, stirring occasionally, until the feta begins to melt, 1 to 2 minutes.
 
4. Add the chicken to the bowl with the pasta. Add the dressing, blueberries, thyme, lime zest and salt and toss until combined.

Small Changes That Make A Big Difference

Small Changes That Make a Big Difference

You don't have to alter your life in a major way to reap big rewards.

 

Weigh Yourself Daily

If you are dieting or maintaining a weight loss, daily weigh-ins may help. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine followed 314 women who had recently lost weight. Forty-five percent of women who weighed themselves daily and had online support maintained their weight loss over 18 months, while only 28 percent of women who didn't weigh themselves daily or have any type of support managed to do the same. If you suspect you've gained weight, reconsider your diet and exercise program and make the appropriate changes.

Practice Good Oral Health

Gum disease and gingivitis have been linked to a host of health problems, including increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, pancreatic cancer, and pregnancy complications. Lowering your risk of gum disease and its complications is easy: Brush your teeth twice a day for a full two minutes, floss daily, and visit your dentist at least twice a year.

Wear Sunscreen Daily

Yes, even in the winter, and on cloudy, rainy, or snowy days. Snow can reflect up to 80 percent of the sun's rays, and UV rays shine through clouds, says Doris Day, MD, FAAD, and author of Forget the Facelift. You need to wear it on days you will be spending time indoors or in the car too, as UVA rays can penetrate glass. Wearing sunscreen helps prevent skin cancer and reduce the signs of aging

Eat More Fish

Omega-3 fatty acids, most commonly found in cold-water fish like salmon and mackerel, and also in walnuts, have been shown to reduce coronary heart disease, and stroke and prevent dementia. One to two servings a week provide benefits. Don't like fish or nuts? You can also take omega-3's as a supplement on a daily basis.

Sneak Exercise Into Your Day

To meet the surgeon general's recommendation of 30 minutes of physical activity, break it into smaller chunks and work it into your day. Some easy ways to do this are: parking your car far away from the entrance, taking the stairs when possible, or walking through the office to speak with a coworker instead of e-mailing. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, as well as control anxiety and weight loss.

Make Doctor Appointments

Visit your doctor and dentist regularly for screening tests appropriate to your age, sex, and genetic risk factors. Many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and most cancers — including colon, skin cancer, and breast cancer — are treatable or even curable if caught in the early stages. While tests like mammograms or colonoscopies are not pleasant, they may save your life.

Keep a Food Diary

When you're dieting to lose weight, keeping a food diary is a simple way to ensure greater success. A recent study sponsored by Kaiser Permanente found that of 1,700 participants asked to follow a cholesterol-lowering diet for six months, those who kept a daily, precise food diary lost up to 20 pounds, more than twice as much as those who didn't keep detailed entries. Remember, that bite of cake counts, even if it's not a full slice!

Wash Fruits and Veggies

Rinsing your fruits and vegetables before you eat them is an important step toward reducing bacteria and chemical residue. Wash the produce even if you plan to peel or chop it, so the knife doesn't transfer any harmful substances.

cool diagnostic tests

Cool Diagnostic Tests

Just about every arrogant bastard I see at the gym is in a woeful state of ignorance or just plain denial. Even the rare physical specimen whose training loads match their ego is often so chock full of imbalances and glaring weaknesses it's a wonder they don't fall over while texting between sets.

While much has been made about achieving and maintaining muscular balance, what really calls the shots is your structural balance.

Structural balance isn't a new concept, having been first introduced to T NATION readers nearly a decade ago by strength coach guru Charles Poliquin. The problem is, it's just not a sexy topic, not even for my fellow kinesiology nerds who fist-pump the computer at the sight of a new article by Eric Cressey or Mike Robertson. 

But sexy or not, achieving structural balance can be the difference between a jacked physique on the cusp of injury, and a jacked physique that's also healthy, strong, and kicks more ass than a Steven Seagal marathon.

If you think this stuff is boring, difficult to assess, or just not worth your time and effort in the gym, you might want to reassess your way of thinking.


Lower Body


Issue 1 – Achieving Full Squat Depth – A Look at Your Construction

Some people squat to parallel, but just can't get down any further. Even if they religiously work on their hip mobility, VMO activation, and posterior chain flexibility, something still seems to block them from getting that extra range of motion that's so vital.

The fix for this can be as simple as foot position. Many 'rules' of squatting state that the lifter should place his or her feet just outside shoulder-width apart, with toes turned slightly out. The truth is, not everyone's bone construction supports this.

The hip joint is a ball and socket joint. The acetabulum (the "socket" located on the pelvis) where the femur links in is not in the exact same place on every lifter. Knowing this can tremendously affect the depth achieved in your squat.

If your acetabula are located more on the anterior, or front side of the pelvis, a narrower squat width would allow a greater ROM, as the femoral head will be properly placed in the socket and not blocked by being forced into an angled position by way of too wide of a stance.

Adversely, if your acetabula happen to be more towards the lateral sides of the pelvis, then a wider stance with toes pointing outwards will probably be best as far as achieving your full depth is concerned. Having your proper stance should be step 1, then comes working on your relative flexibility and other muscle-related performance.

The Test

Here's the easiest way to figure out what foot width will work best for you in promoting the deepest squat you can get.

  • After you finish stretching, find a mirror and get on your elbows and knees with the knees far apart.
  • Keep a flat back and make sure your head and shoulders are closer to the floor than your hips are.
  • Then, by slowly rocking backwards, push your butt towards your heels and take note of where your spine starts to curve.
  • Repeat this test with a narrow knee and foot width and with a mid width. Keep playing around with different widths.

You'll notice that you'll be able to keep a flat back for longer in a certain position versus others. Take this as an indicator of what your foot position should be when you squat.

Note:

Issue 2 – The Pelvic Tilt

If you've ever noticed after leg day that you're more sore in certain places on one leg than the other, or that you can't seem to get both glutes to "feel it" during the workout, chances are you have a pelvic tilt or rotation. Most commonly seen is some kind of pelvic tilt, where basically one side is "higher" than the other, making the leg on that side feel "shorter." 

A pelvic tilt can affect the lumbar vertebrae as a compensatory scoliosis can take place to balance out the rest of the body, including even the eyes and ears (for spatial awareness). This scoliosis results in added compression on the lumbar vertebrae, which inhibits the strength of the electrical signals the nerves can send from the spinal cord to muscles of the lower extremities.

Take a few seconds to see if your hip flexors are in proper working order. If there's a pelvic tilt, there will often be an imbalance in the activation of this group.

The Test

To activate the psoas, find a box or step that you can plant your foot on. It should be high enough to make your hip flex to 90 degrees.

  • Without twisting or changing your body's upright position, pull your knee up toward your chest using your hip flexors and hold for 5 to 10 seconds. (It's not as simple as it looks.)
  • Keep your foot tucked in under your knee and don't let it kick forward. Remember, we're trying to activate a couple of small muscles; this calls for a lot of focus, so focus on just the hips pulling the knee up.
  • If you have to contort the body on one side, or one side is just noticeably weaker than the other and can't maintain the 10-second hold, the proof is in the pudding. (See figure below.)

In Eric Cressey's book Assess and Correct, he makes it clear that pelvic tilts also suggest external rotation deficiencies and tightness of the inner thigh musculature. Fittingly, these need to be addressed by way of proper mobilizing exercises.

The Drills


  • Walking Spidermans. This exercise combines a dynamic stretch to the hip flexors with one for the adductors group. (See video below.)
  • Cradle Walks. This exercise adds a dynamic stretch for the external rotators. Remember to hold the foot and ankle for proper support. (See video below.)

Lastly, during weighted split stance work, the muscles have less of a chance to compensate for one another, even more so when the load is unilateral (or even offset). Farmer's walks, step-ups, and rear leg elevated split squats with an offset load (heavier on the high-hip-side) are great choices.


Upper Body

Upper body training can either help or hurt imbalances. Proper care must be taken to avoid poor positions, and it goes beyond posture.

Issue 1 - Thoracic Curvature


The Test

Reach down with nearly straight legs and try to touch your toes. Don't worry about keeping your back too flat like you do in a stiff dead.

Take a look in a mirror beside you. Does your mid back curve like a camel's hump? Also, take note of how much curvature exists when simply standing straight. A big kyphotic curvature in the thoracic area is often seen but is just as often neglected. Even with people who train and have decent overall development, this issue can stymie their progress.

spine

There are a couple of reasons why this happens. First, the upper back musculature needs some strengthening. Second, the deeper tissue on the front side of the body may be tight and lack the flexibility needed to keep the spine from deforming to compensate.

There's more to it than just working on keeping a flat lower back. If you transfer this issue into your heavy exercises that demand the most spinal stability (like deadlifts and front squats), this deficiency of thoracic extension comes to the forefront big time. It can lead to serious issues like rhomboid strains, even disc herniation. Not fun.

Any takers on how to get rid of the turtleback?

The Drills

First, let's focus on the tissue quality of the posterior muscles.

  • Foam Roller Extensions

Take the time to foam roll the spinal erectors and lats. Focus on 5 passes in each direction. Then, with the foam roller resting just above the lumbar region (mid back) cross the hands over the shoulders and gently work to extend the thoracic region to move the shoulders towards the floor (see figure below).

The next thing to do would be to make sure the abs, intercostals, and pec minor aren't inhibiting the back's ability to not round your back.

  • PNF Intercostal Stretch

Kneel on your knees facing any bench. Interlace your fingers with your hands behind your head, and point your elbows forward. Lean forward at the waist, and planting your elbows on the bench, apply downward pressure for 5 seconds. Really try to squeeze your abs and pull down with your elbows towards the floor. Breathe in, and relax.

Sinking your chest downward and inching backwards with the knees will offer slightly more range of motion. Repeat this 3 times, increasing the range of motion each time. This comes in quite handy between your sets of front squats or deadlifts. (See figure below)

  • Trap-3 Raises

The traps are divided into three sections, Traps 1, 2 and 3. Trap 3 is lowest of the three and the least targeted through basic exercises. Subsequently, as far as performance goes, they often fall as far behind as the token white guy in the 100-meter finals. Remember to keep your upper body close to horizontal to ensure the deltoid doesn't take over the lift. (See video below.)

Issue 2 – What Makes a Healthy Shoulder?

Many coaches, me included, have written a billion and one pointers on training for the stability of the shoulder capsule. The normal trend is to focus on exercises that work on the strength and retraction of the scapulae, where the rotator cuff muscles originate. We also suggest other isolation exercises and modified exercises for the deltoids to increase subacromial space and add freedom of mobility.

What's forgotten here is activation of the long head of the triceps. Along with beefing up the upper arms, the long triceps head also serves to stabilize the shoulder from the rear side.

If you've noticed that during overhead movements like skull crushers and French presses your arms are shaking like a leaf, or that your shoulders always bug you during incline bench pressing, it's a safe bet that the long head of your triceps needs work.

Remember that the farther away your elbow moves from your torso, the greater the role of the long head, so a couple key exercises to bring up these bad boys would be:

  • Overhead Triceps Extensions
  • Decline triceps skullcrushers

Issue 3 – Straight Up, Dude, You're Training your Core the Wrong Way!

Core malfunction is never something that just "happens." It comes as a product of either not training it at all, or training it incorrectly.

The core is responsible for many different movements, including trunk anterior and lateral flexion. It also produces rotation. Having said that, keep in mind that rather than training the core to create movement, it's more important that we train it to resist movement.

As Mike Robertson noted in "21st Century Core Training", the core is foremost a stability unit for the spine. Furthermore, spending too much time doing twisting ab exercises like side med-ball throws, twisting sit-ups, or woodchoppers may start training the lower back to dysfunction.

Collectively, all the lumbar vertebrae are responsible for only about 10 to 15 degrees of rotation. Are twisting flexions really worth the risk? Doubtful.

Recent studies have suggested that holding planks alone (or other core isometrics) aren't the greatest choice for making the abs stronger. Since there's no shortening or lengthening of the tissue, the muscles are simply being deprived of oxygen, so if you think you're still doing good for your abs of steel with your half-hour plank, you might as well stick with your BOSU one-legged deadlifts.

Here are a couple of other options to enforce the correct movement chains in the abdominals and low back.

  • Side plank row – Make sure you keep the body completely straight, and don't allow the body to move at all during the lift! (See figure below.)
  • Palof press. (See figure below.)
  • Crossover plank. (See Video below.)


That's a Wrap

In training, it's all about the little things, and getting that "next level" body means you have to take a step back, check your ego, and have an objective look at yourself. Everyone's different, and even if your exercise selections seem correct, they could be ass backwards when you consider your individual construction.

Considering one wrong move in the weight room could sideline you from days to months, it's time to make preventive care the order of the day. You'll be glad you did.

cool diagnostic tests

Cool Diagnostic Tests

Just about every arrogant bastard I see at the gym is in a woeful state of ignorance or just plain denial. Even the rare physical specimen whose training loads match their ego is often so chock full of imbalances and glaring weaknesses it's a wonder they don't fall over while texting between sets.

While much has been made about achieving and maintaining muscular balance, what really calls the shots is your structural balance.

Structural balance isn't a new concept, having been first introduced to T NATION readers nearly a decade ago by strength coach guru Charles Poliquin. The problem is, it's just not a sexy topic, not even for my fellow kinesiology nerds who fist-pump the computer at the sight of a new article by Eric Cressey or Mike Robertson. 

But sexy or not, achieving structural balance can be the difference between a jacked physique on the cusp of injury, and a jacked physique that's also healthy, strong, and kicks more ass than a Steven Seagal marathon.

If you think this stuff is boring, difficult to assess, or just not worth your time and effort in the gym, you might want to reassess your way of thinking.


Lower Body


Issue 1 – Achieving Full Squat Depth – A Look at Your Construction

Some people squat to parallel, but just can't get down any further. Even if they religiously work on their hip mobility, VMO activation, and posterior chain flexibility, something still seems to block them from getting that extra range of motion that's so vital.

The fix for this can be as simple as foot position. Many 'rules' of squatting state that the lifter should place his or her feet just outside shoulder-width apart, with toes turned slightly out. The truth is, not everyone's bone construction supports this.

The hip joint is a ball and socket joint. The acetabulum (the "socket" located on the pelvis) where the femur links in is not in the exact same place on every lifter. Knowing this can tremendously affect the depth achieved in your squat.

If your acetabula are located more on the anterior, or front side of the pelvis, a narrower squat width would allow a greater ROM, as the femoral head will be properly placed in the socket and not blocked by being forced into an angled position by way of too wide of a stance.

Adversely, if your acetabula happen to be more towards the lateral sides of the pelvis, then a wider stance with toes pointing outwards will probably be best as far as achieving your full depth is concerned. Having your proper stance should be step 1, then comes working on your relative flexibility and other muscle-related performance.

The Test

Here's the easiest way to figure out what foot width will work best for you in promoting the deepest squat you can get.

  • After you finish stretching, find a mirror and get on your elbows and knees with the knees far apart.
  • Keep a flat back and make sure your head and shoulders are closer to the floor than your hips are.
  • Then, by slowly rocking backwards, push your butt towards your heels and take note of where your spine starts to curve.
  • Repeat this test with a narrow knee and foot width and with a mid width. Keep playing around with different widths.

You'll notice that you'll be able to keep a flat back for longer in a certain position versus others. Take this as an indicator of what your foot position should be when you squat.

Note:

Issue 2 – The Pelvic Tilt

If you've ever noticed after leg day that you're more sore in certain places on one leg than the other, or that you can't seem to get both glutes to "feel it" during the workout, chances are you have a pelvic tilt or rotation. Most commonly seen is some kind of pelvic tilt, where basically one side is "higher" than the other, making the leg on that side feel "shorter." 

A pelvic tilt can affect the lumbar vertebrae as a compensatory scoliosis can take place to balance out the rest of the body, including even the eyes and ears (for spatial awareness). This scoliosis results in added compression on the lumbar vertebrae, which inhibits the strength of the electrical signals the nerves can send from the spinal cord to muscles of the lower extremities.

Take a few seconds to see if your hip flexors are in proper working order. If there's a pelvic tilt, there will often be an imbalance in the activation of this group.

The Test

To activate the psoas, find a box or step that you can plant your foot on. It should be high enough to make your hip flex to 90 degrees.

  • Without twisting or changing your body's upright position, pull your knee up toward your chest using your hip flexors and hold for 5 to 10 seconds. (It's not as simple as it looks.)
  • Keep your foot tucked in under your knee and don't let it kick forward. Remember, we're trying to activate a couple of small muscles; this calls for a lot of focus, so focus on just the hips pulling the knee up.
  • If you have to contort the body on one side, or one side is just noticeably weaker than the other and can't maintain the 10-second hold, the proof is in the pudding. (See figure below.)

In Eric Cressey's book Assess and Correct, he makes it clear that pelvic tilts also suggest external rotation deficiencies and tightness of the inner thigh musculature. Fittingly, these need to be addressed by way of proper mobilizing exercises.

The Drills


  • Walking Spidermans. This exercise combines a dynamic stretch to the hip flexors with one for the adductors group. (See video below.)
  • Cradle Walks. This exercise adds a dynamic stretch for the external rotators. Remember to hold the foot and ankle for proper support. (See video below.)

Lastly, during weighted split stance work, the muscles have less of a chance to compensate for one another, even more so when the load is unilateral (or even offset). Farmer's walks, step-ups, and rear leg elevated split squats with an offset load (heavier on the high-hip-side) are great choices.


Upper Body

Upper body training can either help or hurt imbalances. Proper care must be taken to avoid poor positions, and it goes beyond posture.

Issue 1 - Thoracic Curvature


The Test

Reach down with nearly straight legs and try to touch your toes. Don't worry about keeping your back too flat like you do in a stiff dead.

Take a look in a mirror beside you. Does your mid back curve like a camel's hump? Also, take note of how much curvature exists when simply standing straight. A big kyphotic curvature in the thoracic area is often seen but is just as often neglected. Even with people who train and have decent overall development, this issue can stymie their progress.

spine

There are a couple of reasons why this happens. First, the upper back musculature needs some strengthening. Second, the deeper tissue on the front side of the body may be tight and lack the flexibility needed to keep the spine from deforming to compensate.

There's more to it than just working on keeping a flat lower back. If you transfer this issue into your heavy exercises that demand the most spinal stability (like deadlifts and front squats), this deficiency of thoracic extension comes to the forefront big time. It can lead to serious issues like rhomboid strains, even disc herniation. Not fun.

Any takers on how to get rid of the turtleback?

The Drills

First, let's focus on the tissue quality of the posterior muscles.

  • Foam Roller Extensions

Take the time to foam roll the spinal erectors and lats. Focus on 5 passes in each direction. Then, with the foam roller resting just above the lumbar region (mid back) cross the hands over the shoulders and gently work to extend the thoracic region to move the shoulders towards the floor (see figure below).

The next thing to do would be to make sure the abs, intercostals, and pec minor aren't inhibiting the back's ability to not round your back.

  • PNF Intercostal Stretch

Kneel on your knees facing any bench. Interlace your fingers with your hands behind your head, and point your elbows forward. Lean forward at the waist, and planting your elbows on the bench, apply downward pressure for 5 seconds. Really try to squeeze your abs and pull down with your elbows towards the floor. Breathe in, and relax.

Sinking your chest downward and inching backwards with the knees will offer slightly more range of motion. Repeat this 3 times, increasing the range of motion each time. This comes in quite handy between your sets of front squats or deadlifts. (See figure below)

  • Trap-3 Raises

The traps are divided into three sections, Traps 1, 2 and 3. Trap 3 is lowest of the three and the least targeted through basic exercises. Subsequently, as far as performance goes, they often fall as far behind as the token white guy in the 100-meter finals. Remember to keep your upper body close to horizontal to ensure the deltoid doesn't take over the lift. (See video below.)

Issue 2 – What Makes a Healthy Shoulder?

Many coaches, me included, have written a billion and one pointers on training for the stability of the shoulder capsule. The normal trend is to focus on exercises that work on the strength and retraction of the scapulae, where the rotator cuff muscles originate. We also suggest other isolation exercises and modified exercises for the deltoids to increase subacromial space and add freedom of mobility.

What's forgotten here is activation of the long head of the triceps. Along with beefing up the upper arms, the long triceps head also serves to stabilize the shoulder from the rear side.

If you've noticed that during overhead movements like skull crushers and French presses your arms are shaking like a leaf, or that your shoulders always bug you during incline bench pressing, it's a safe bet that the long head of your triceps needs work.

Remember that the farther away your elbow moves from your torso, the greater the role of the long head, so a couple key exercises to bring up these bad boys would be:

  • Overhead Triceps Extensions
  • Decline triceps skullcrushers

Issue 3 – Straight Up, Dude, You're Training your Core the Wrong Way!

Core malfunction is never something that just "happens." It comes as a product of either not training it at all, or training it incorrectly.

The core is responsible for many different movements, including trunk anterior and lateral flexion. It also produces rotation. Having said that, keep in mind that rather than training the core to create movement, it's more important that we train it to resist movement.

As Mike Robertson noted in "21st Century Core Training", the core is foremost a stability unit for the spine. Furthermore, spending too much time doing twisting ab exercises like side med-ball throws, twisting sit-ups, or woodchoppers may start training the lower back to dysfunction.

Collectively, all the lumbar vertebrae are responsible for only about 10 to 15 degrees of rotation. Are twisting flexions really worth the risk? Doubtful.

Recent studies have suggested that holding planks alone (or other core isometrics) aren't the greatest choice for making the abs stronger. Since there's no shortening or lengthening of the tissue, the muscles are simply being deprived of oxygen, so if you think you're still doing good for your abs of steel with your half-hour plank, you might as well stick with your BOSU one-legged deadlifts.

Here are a couple of other options to enforce the correct movement chains in the abdominals and low back.

  • Side plank row – Make sure you keep the body completely straight, and don't allow the body to move at all during the lift! (See figure below.)
  • Palof press. (See figure below.)
  • Crossover plank. (See Video below.)


That's a Wrap

In training, it's all about the little things, and getting that "next level" body means you have to take a step back, check your ego, and have an objective look at yourself. Everyone's different, and even if your exercise selections seem correct, they could be ass backwards when you consider your individual construction.

Considering one wrong move in the weight room could sideline you from days to months, it's time to make preventive care the order of the day. You'll be glad you did.

Lose Fat, Stay Strong

These are the facts:


  1. Training with light weights while on a fat-loss diet makes you really good at lifting light and pretty awful at lifting heavy. That's unacceptable.
  2. Heavy training, even while in a caloric deficit, is vastly superior for holding on to lean body mass.
  3. Unless you want to end your diet as a weak (albeit lean) little man, then you must include some heavy strength training in your plan.


Old School Bulk 'n Cuts

Bodybuilding-style bulking and cutting periods both have drawbacks. With bulking periods, you tend to put on a fair amount of fat as you seek to gain muscle size.

With cutting periods, you run the risk of losing lean body mass in your quest to reduce body fat. This is bad for a number of reasons. It sets you up for a series of two-steps-forward, one-step-back situations. It's painfully frustrating, and it also compromises progress in the long run.

Remember, your lean body mass is one of the main things that determines your metabolic rate. Sacrificing LBM to get lean is counterproductive because you certainly won't stay lean for very long – especially once you go back to trying to gain mass.

At best, if you're able to hang on to your mass, there will be the problem of losing strength. Now, if you're lean, you'll be placed in the unenviable position of trying to play catch-up with your strength levels for a few weeks. That's another unacceptable tradeoff.


The New Way

We seem to be getting away from the old bulk-and-cut practices of bodybuilding. That's a good thing. Instead, we should always be trying to achieve consistent body recomposition and lean gains.

Make no mistake: it's possible to stay lean while gaining mass. Similarly, with intelligent programming, it's possible to maintain and even gain strength and muscle while losing fat.


Go Heavy, Get Lean

Successful competitive bodybuilders already know this. To maintain muscle mass while dieting down into the single digits, you gotta train heavy.

In fact (drug use aside), one of the main things these guys do in the final stages of contest prep is train with heavy weight, which, coincidentally, also increases both neurogenic and myogenic muscle tone – a necessary weapon on a competition stage.

When I first started incorporating heavy strength training into my fat loss programs, I used a 5x5 protocol because this is what many bodybuilders used. It worked. My clients lost fat and maintained lean body mass with relative ease. However, it always nagged at me that this method wasn't creating a solution, just addressing a problem.

Here's the deal: every training session should be used to make you better, not just prevent you from getting worse. The 5x5 protocol was fine, but I knew there was an even better way to keep the lean mass while accelerating fat loss.

Strength circuits were the solution.


The Set-Up

Strength circuits take three or four exercises and set them up into circuits. Circuit training, done correctly, is one of the most effective weightlifting methodologies there is when fat loss is the goal, and strength circuits are no different.

You'll move from one exercise to another with minimal rest in between, and then repeat as necessary. However, there's a twist here that makes this type of training a lot more interesting.

A traditional set-up would have you doing a predetermined number of sets, with each of those having a predetermined number of reps. We've seen that for decades. It works, but it's not perfect. (Chad Waterbury came up with a better plan of action, and you'll see his influence below.)

The goal of performing strength circuits is to help build muscle and shred fat while gaining strength, and part of that is going to be neurological. Instead of just "lifting" the weights, I want you to focus on lifting explosively, and perfectly.

Each rep should be performed in the most explosive way possible. This helps to create greater stimulation for your nervous system, which will allow for the greatest recruitment of muscle fibers.

In order to make this effective, and in order to ensure that each set is challenging and stimulating without draining you, we're going to disregard traditional set and rep schemes. Rather than focus on a conventionally structured workout of sets and reps, the focus is only on the total number of reps.

If this sounds a bit familiar, it should. Strength circuits draw inspiration from both Chad Waterbury and Christian Thibaudeau. To quote Chad, "Focus on the reps and let the sets take care of themselves." 

What you'll do here is rotate through the chosen exercises until you've completed the desired number of reps.

Let's break it down.

Workout Set-Up

Each workout will consist of two circuits, each comprised of 3-4 exercises. Between these two circuits will be something called the dynamic interrupt, which is a metabolic enhancement circuit (more on that below).

First, let's talk about how to create individual strength circuits, as well as a complete workout.

Exercise Selection

This method is best suited to using big, compound, multi-joint movements. This is especially true for the first circuit. For the second circuit, if you'd like to throw in one isolation movement, that's fine.

Individual Workouts

Every workout will ideally have one of each:

  • Hip/hamstring dominant leg exercise
  • Quad dominant leg exercise
  • Horizontal pushing movement
  • Horizontal pulling movement
  • Vertical pulling movement
  • Vertical pushing movement

Individual Circuits

Each circuit should have at least one lower body movement, at least one upper-body pulling movement, and at least one upper-body pressing movement. As long as those three are covered, you can be creative as to which movement planes you work in what order.

The Details

Let's say that you've chosen to set up a circuit with dumbbell push presses, bentover rows, front squats, and weighted pull-ups.

You'd first perform as many reps as you could on the dumbbell push press. After that, perform as many bentover rows as you can. Then perform as many front squats as you can. Finally, you'd perform as many weighted pull-ups as possible.

You simply cycle through the exercises until you've completed all of the prescribed reps, regardless of how many sets it takes.

You'll probably complete the total prescribed reps for one of the exercises before the others. That's fine. Just alternate the remaining exercises back and forth.

Once you've completed all of the total reps for each exercise in the circuit, move on to the next segment of the workout.

Total Training Volume

Instead of thinking about the sets, simply focus on a total number of workout reps to gauge your volume. Ideally, a workout will have between 210 and 250 total reps.

If you're going over that, you're either using weight that's too light (and therefore setting your total reps too high), or doing too many exercises. As a rule of thumb, 250 total reps is the upper limit.

Parameters for Selecting Rep Goals

Selecting the total reps on an exercise is a personal thing. Some people like to go very heavy on squats, so they'll adjust the reps to be lower. Or perhaps you find that your chest generally responds better to higher reps. You might set your total reps to allow for that, and therefore use less weight.

The main thing is that your rep range for any given movement is between 20-35. Any less and you simply aren't getting enough stimulation; any more and you're going too light for this to be a "strength circuit."

Parameters for Selecting Load

The idea is for this to be strength training; the weight must be heavy. This requires us to have some guidelines for selecting a work-set weight and knowing when to increase it.

The chart below will give you some guidelines for selecting a starting weight based on how many total reps you've chosen for a given exercise (not the set – the exercise.)

Total RepsLoad20Begin with a weight you think you can lift 3-5 times. If you can complete 6 or more reps on your first set, go a little heavier. If you can only complete 2 or fewer reps on your first set, go lighter.  25Begin with a weight you can lift 4-6 times. If you can get 6 or more reps your first set, increase the weight. If you complete only 3 or fewer reps on your first set, reduce the weight a little. 30Begin with a weight you think you can lift 6-8 times. If you can get 9 or more reps your first set, increase the weight. If you complete 4 reps or fewer on your first set, reduce the weight. 35Begin with a weight you can lift 7-9 times. If you can complete 10 reps or more on your first set, increase the weight. If you can complete only 8 reps or fewer, reduce the weight.

Enter the Dynamic Interrupt

The Dynamic Interrupt was originally intended as a way to increase conditioning with athletes. The side effect? Rapid fat loss! I particularly like dynamic interrupts for strength circuits.

After your last set of a prescribed circuit (i.e. when you've finished every rep for every exercise), try the Dynamic Interrupt. It's a series of bodyweight exercises that helps to increase heart rate and burn additional fat by making the workout more metabolic.

The lower rep range of the strength training is offset by the activity of the Dynamic Interrupt, and the fat-burning effect becomes even more profound.

Exercises are done for as many reps as possible in a given timeframe. The total work time of your Dynamic Interrupt should be 180 seconds or less.

Exercise Selection for the Dynamic Interrupt

Exercises for the DI can really be anything from jumping rope to jumping jacks to pushing a Prowler. The only real consideration is that you don't want to choose exercises that will inhibit performance on the second circuit.

For example, if you've selected the bench press as one of your exercises on the second circuit, don't select 75 seconds of as many push-ups as you can complete. Just choose movements that won't interfere with what's to come.


Sample Workout

Try this workout and see your results – and your strength – increase drastically.

ExerciseType of MovementPlane, DominanceSetsTotal RepsA1) Dumbbell Push Press Upper Body PushVerticalVary30A2) Bentover Barbell RowUpper Body PullHorizontalVary25A3) Front SquatLower BodyQuad DominantVary35A4) Weighted Pull-UpUpper Body PullVerticalVary20Rest 15-30 seconds between exercises. When you finish your circuit, rest 45-60 seconds. Cycle through until you complete all reps for all exercises. Then, without rest, proceed immediately to the Dynamic Interrupt.

Dynamic Interrupt

ExerciseReps1) BurpeesAs many as possible in 75 seconds2) Mountain ClimbersAs many as possible in 45 secondsPerform burpees, then mountain climbers, with minimal rest in between. When you've finished the mountain climbers, rest 2 minutes and proceed to circuit B.ExerciseType of MovementPlane, DominanceSetsTotal RepsB1) Deadlift Lower BodyHip/Ham DominantVary20B2) Low-Incline DB Bench PressUpper Body PushHorizontalVary35B3) High PullUpper Body PullVerticalVary30B4) Alternating Barbell LungesUpper Body PullQuad DominantVary30 (15/leg)Rest 15-30 seconds between exercises. When you finish your circuit, rest 45-60 seconds. Cycle through until you complete all reps for all exercises.


Spend Calories, Save Mass

Lifting heavy weight requires a great deal of energy, so strength training is generally calorically expensive. In addition, because we've set things up in a circuit, the pace of the workout is much faster and fat loss increases.

Try this method one day a week during your diet program and watch your fat loss accelerate as you hold on to strength and mass!

Spice It Up

Cinnamon: Cinnamon extract has been proven to aid in glucose disposal, so it keeps your blood sugar stable.  Don't bother with a cinnamon extract supplement; just add cinnamon extract to your food for flavor and fat loss.  You might also think outside the box with cinnamon - it works great with a lot  of foods you might not expect.

Turmeric: This is often found in South Asian and Middle Eastern dishes and it is commonly used in many curries.  The active component is curcumin, an antioxidant that has been found to aid joint health, helping to reduce inflammation and heal injured joints.

Cayenne Pepper: If you like it hot, then this is the spice for you.  A dash will give your food some kick and put your body in fat-burning mode.  Capsaicin is the active ingredient in cayenne and it is a proven thermogenic.  Cayenne causes a slight rise in body temperature, which means more calorie burning and fat loss - not bad for something sitting in your spice rack.  If you aren't a fan of the dry version, then grab some hot sauce and put a few drops on your chicken or streak.

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