Articles Tagged: performance enhancement

Balance is Crucial: Bulking and Cutting

Do you ever feel like you’re on a “perma-bulk” or always seem to be in a cutting phase?

Most of us are genetically predisposed to either carrying more body fat than we’d prefer, or less muscle mass than we’d like. Only the lucky few are naturally inclined towards those lean bodies packed with muscle.

While there’s a greater proportion  of the lucky individuals in the world of competition compared to the general population, plenty of competitors still land on either side of the spectrum.

As such, we tend to gravitate towards the eating/training style that matches our natural struggle–those of us who struggle to lose weight are always eating at a calorie deficit and doing a lot of cardio, while the “hardgainers” among us pack away calories day after day and spend a lot of time pumping iron. Continue Reading Balance is Crucial: Bulking and Cutting »

Two Critical Factors to Natural Muscle Gain That You’re Currently Ignoring

“I work out hard all the time and I just don’t grow!” Sound familiar? How about, “No matter how much I eat, I can’t gain weight!” or, “My bench has been stuck at __ lbs forever and I just can’t get stronger!”—any of those sound like something you’ve heard recently, or perhaps even said yourself?

Every day, thousands of hopeful hardgainers travel to their local gyms, diligently work through the latest muscle magazine or bodybuilding.com workout program, and summarily fail to achieve any of the incredible results promised by these programs despite their best and continued effort.

While some maintain a headstrong attitude in the face of continued failure for years, most eventually burn out and give up. And who can blame them? Nothing is less motivating than working excruciatingly hard at something, only to see literally nothing for your hard work.

The reason I am so familiar with this feeling is because I went through the same thing myself as a young adult. Throughout high school and early college, I was a scrawny, muscleless weakling and was treated as such by everyone around me.

Continue Reading Two Critical Factors to Natural Muscle Gain That You’re Currently Ignoring »

Is Coffee Good or Bad for Me?

There is a lot of debate surrounding coffee and caffeine consumption in relation to weight loss. There clearly is no single answer as to whether it is good or bad for you, since there is plenty evidence for as well as against the claims that coffee is good/bad for one’s health.

Coffee has been around for a long time, so it’s become a big part of our daily routine. Not only do we consume it for its rich, aromatic taste, but many times it is consumed for purposes such as a simple pick-me up or for a pre-workout boost.

Drinking coffee has become even more popular as big companies such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts have developed full menus of various flavors and recipes so that even those of us who don’t enjoy traditional coffee can still get our fix. We are constantly offered new coffee drinks from them, but what we often seem to overlook is that those coffee “drinks” can offer much more than what we are actually asking for, and I am not talking about getting more of what you want for your dollar here. Continue Reading Is Coffee Good or Bad for Me? »

Why “Functional Training” is a Meaningless Term

Spark a conversation about training philosophy with a group of personal trainers these days and you’re bound to run into at least one that espouses the claim that “functional exercise” is a vastly-superior method of training for any trainee, regardless of their goal or circumstance.

Such proponents often argue that functional training methods provide “real world strength”–the idea that the skills learned in training will transfer directly to the skills needed in life–and that other forms of training (particularly, typical bodybuilding methods) will provide no similar carryover of benefits.

While these arguments can be convincing and might contain some good points, the underlying concept is flawed for one simple reason: “functionality” is a relative term. Continue Reading Why “Functional Training” is a Meaningless Term »

Perfect Posture Series: Protracted Shoulder Girdle

Look around you at the gym, or in any public place and you will see a common trait shared by the vast majority: forward-slumped shoulders with a closed-off chest cavity. This posture is so prevalent that people don’t even recognize it when they see it… it just looks like normal posture to them.

The issue is, of course, that it’s not a healthy position to be in for a number of reasons that I am going to outline for you today. Before I get into the reasons why I feel that this postural abnormality needs to be addressed, let me explain what exactly is going on when someone has a protracted shoulder girdle. Continue Reading Perfect Posture Series: Protracted Shoulder Girdle »

Why I Hate the “Women Only” Section

Time to work out. You walk into the gym, and are immediately met with the intense smell of sweat, dirty socks and rubber flooring. All around you, angry meat-heads are violently slamming weights, screaming (in a manner you’re not sure is caused by intense pain or some kind of primitive, primal rage), and storming through the gym with a look on their face that says, “Get in my way, even for a second and I will END.YOUR.LIFE.”

You’re already sweating in anticipation of the awkward, frightening experience you will have in the weight room. You start listening to the voice in your head telling you to come back later to work out, no big deal. No, you say, I’m here, I’m going to do it.

You fumble for your membership key card, which you timidly hand to the front desk attendant who is looking at you with a raised eyebrow, probably wondering why you’re sweating so much even though you haven’t yet started your workout.

After procrastinating for as long as you can in the locker room, you finally take a deep breath and prepare yourself for what lies ahead. Just as you’re about to enter the lion’s den, you notice an inviting sign at the opposite end of the locker room. “Women-Only Weights Room” it says. Continue Reading Why I Hate the “Women Only” Section »

Why 6-12 Week Programs Result In the Most Success

Last week we talked about breaking your large goals into smaller goals and its (positive) effect on success rates. Today, I want to get into it a little more with some specific recommendations for what size these mini goals should be.

So, check this out. I’ve personally found in my experience with our athletes (and myself) that 6 and 12 week goals, and programs built around that time frame seem to provide the best balance of results and motivation.

Why? Simple. It’s easier to stay motivated for a set amount of time than “forever”. When you have that light at the end of the tunnel, you can move towards it at blinding speed instead of the typical yo-yoing periods of high and low motivation that typify the average person’s fitness efforts. Continue Reading Why 6-12 Week Programs Result In the Most Success »

Why You Should Focus on Performance Instead of Physique

Continuing on from our last chat about muscle gain, I want to talk a little bit about goals and what you should focus on in your training and nutrition.

Other than a handful of currently-active athletes who have come to our facility for training, I can’t think of a single person who, when asked what they’re goals were, mentioned anything about strength. Everyone’s answers revolve around their physique—body parts they want to change, weight they want to lose, etc.

Yet, this may not be the best way to approach things. At the end of the day, if you’re training hard and adding pounds to your lifts each week, and eating a diet that is conducive to an improved body composition, you’re going to see results physically—there’s no question about it. In fact, if you’re not seeing results physically, either you’re not doing one or both of those things, or you’ve got a medical issue that needs to be properly diagnosed and treated. It’s that simple. Continue Reading Why You Should Focus on Performance Instead of Physique »

Why Recovery Periods Will Help Improve Your Training Results

How was your 4th of July weekend?

Kasia and I had a great time last week in Mexico—we try to get away at least once per year somewhere so we can “unplug” and let ourselves recharge.

Don’t get me wrong, we both LOVE what we do, but I believe it’s critical for everyone to get out of their daily routine for a bit occasionally, because it allows you to step back from the “weeds”, eliminate any built-up stress and look at everything a little differently, so you can come back stronger and more energetic and hit the ground running.

We also took the week to enjoy a recovery week from training—in fact, our entire facility took the week off. It’s one of the most important things you can do for long-term success, because every so often your body needs a week of FULL recovery to come back from any minor nagging injuries and to let your CNS take a break. Continue Reading Why Recovery Periods Will Help Improve Your Training Results »

Hydration’s Effect on Fat Loss and What Drinks to Avoid

In week 1, we talked about chewing your food slowly and stopping your meal when you’re 80% full. In week 2, we reviewed the crucial role of protein, what the best sources are and how much to eat per day. In week 3, we talked about how many vegetables and fruits we should be eating and why. Week 4’s subject matter was all about healthy fats and why they are so important to our health and physique. Last week, we reviewed the 5th habit regarding proper carbohydrate intake and timing.

So this brings us to our 6th and final week, where I am going to discuss the final habit that ties everything up. And that is the habit of drinking enough zero-calorie fluids each day.

Yeah yeah, but you “already drink PLENTY of water”, right? I can’t tell you how many times I hear this when I ask a new athlete about their liquid intake. Actually, I can—about 100% of the time. Continue Reading Hydration’s Effect on Fat Loss and What Drinks to Avoid »