Hey fit fam! I wanted to share with you all a highlight of my week last week.
I was having my morning coffee last Sunday and began scrolling through IG. I had a message in my inbox from a client; it was a photo of the scale, and in between her bare feet read, 144. This day marked 30 weeks that she had been following my customized training and nutrition program, and this marked exactly a 30-pound weight loss.

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When you see that as a reader it looks great on paper, right?! Thirty pounds in 30 weeks for a female in the 35+ age range is perfect; that’s a pound a week! It’s enticing and seems doable, you think to yourself, “I can do that!”

What I’m going to tell you is the same thing I tell everyone when they begin a training program; yes, it is very doable because it’s based on science. Is it easy, no. The reasons it isn’t easy however isn’t because of the reasons you would think. Most everyone can agree that working out is the easy part and diet is the hard part. While I think this is true as well, I believe a lack of patience is most peoples primary detriment.

Take my client above for instance. If she lost a single pound the first week, another the second, another pound the third and this was a continuous pattern that she knew to expect every week, that in my opinion seems fairly promising. Unfortunately, that isn’t how it works. You may begin a new training/nutrition program and the first week lose 5-pounds merely because you aren’t eating sodium filled processed foods everyday. While this is exciting and a great feat in itself, these numbers aren’t typically realistic over consecutive weeks. In fact, some weeks you may show no weight loss at all. This is when people lose their patience. “You mean I have followed my menu and workouts to a T and haven’t even lost a pound this week.” Yes, it sucks! It absolutely sucks to step on the scale one day and read 132, and the very next day weigh 133. How in the world does this happen?! It’s defined as homeostasis and electrolyte balance, it’s called being a human!

My client above didn’t throw in the towel at 15-weeks when the scale didn’t show a loss, or at 21 weeks when once again, nothing on the scale. Instead, she emailed me and said she was going to stay off of the scale and only weigh in every two weeks along with her bi-weekly measurement updates. This made me so happy! I check in with my clients every week. Each week they fill out a questionnaire regarding their menu, workouts, how they feel and so on. I have them weigh in once a week (the morning of their check-in), and every two weeks I request measurements. When she said she wanted to weigh in bi-weekly this showed me that she was no longer relying solely on the scale to determine her progression, which ultimately shows me she has found her “fitness and wellness lifestyle.

I have said it over and over, verbatim …slow and steady progress trumps fast fat loss any day. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you must commit to a healthy “lifestyle.” If you weigh yourself every single morning, you can guarantee that at least three days out of the week you will begin your day with doubt and uncertainty. Why would anyone want to do this to themselves? More importantly, why would you let a scale determine a moment of unhappiness in your life.

It’s ok to occasionally get discouraged, once again, we’re human; however, one must learn to control emotions of discouragement and not overeat and dive head first into a pattern of binging when these feelings come into play. One must realize that every week will not be a rewarding week on the scale. Every week you will not be motivated. You may slip up and eat two too-many cookies on your treat day, but the main thing is to remain patient and consistent.  If you are consistent with a program science will prevail, but you must have the patience while waiting on the bigger picture. 

 

 

HIIT involves alternating bursts of all-out intensity (90-100%) for a set duration of time, with a work to rest ratio of 1:2 or 1:3. This essentially means that you train both your aerobic and anaerobic stems simultaneously and hone your metabolic flexibility (i.e. your ability to transition between burning fat (during the recovery) and burning carbs (during the intervals).
HIIT is often performed incorrectly. True HIIT training has a goal. To be faster and stronger. To perform optimal HIIT you need to know what your maximal performance is; the most number of reps you can do, how fast you can run, how high you can jump, etc. Then, your intervals are completed near maximal intensity. Most however do not allow enough recovery time (ex. if you are working ay maximal intensity for 60 seconds, you will need about 2 minutes to fully recover. A 1:2 ratio of work to rest is usually sufficient). Result of a shortened recovery means a decrease in intensity to follow.
To end- if you are not having your programs created for you by a professional; then before you base your programming on “guestimates”, give yourself a few max performance tests.(ex. find your maximum speed for instance by running as fast as you can on the treadmill, complete as many burps, push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups as you can for 30-60 seconds; then program your HIIT accordingly).
HIIT training if calculated correctly can drastically reduce body fat, increase lean mass and aerobic power.
Other forms of HIIT training include:
1) Turbulence Training:
8 reps of weight training alternated with 1-2 minute high intensity cardio, for 45 minutes maximum.

Example Turbulence Training workouts:

  • Sets of 8 back squats x 2 minutes jump rope
  • Sets of 8 deadlifts x 1 minute burpees
  • Sets of 8 bench presses x 1:30 minutes sprints

2) Tabata Method:
Each “set” is 30 seconds long, and consists of 20 seconds work alternated with 10 seconds rest. Repeat sets eight times for a total of four minutes. For Tabata “rest” sets you stop moving completely, unlike the rest sets in other HIIT workouts, which are low-intensity but you continue moving.

Example Tabata workouts:

  • 8 sets of jump squats + 8 sets of push ups
  • Alternate sets of planks and sit ups, do 16 sets total
  • Simply do 8 sets of burps

    3) Power Intervals:
    90 seconds work alternated with 30 seconds rest, usually used for cardio activities such as running, walking, rowing, swimming, etc. Use maximum effort in the work sets, then 50% effort for the rest sets.Example Power Interval Workouts:

    • 10 minutes (5 sets) of running power intervals
    • 4 minutes (2 sets) of jump squat power intervals
    • 20 minutes (10 sets) of rowing power intervals
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For weekly HIIT training follow my girl AJ for awesome intervals! 

As athletes we need to train- and we need to train hard; However, if we don’t allow sufficient time for the body to complete the repair process, we run the risk of moving into ‘exhaustion’. In this stage, cells are not fully repaired before again encountering a demand they cannot meet. (ex. for instance, if your strength program calls for 5 sets of 3 front squats @90% of your 1RM and you spend the next two days moving gingerly and wincing from the resulting DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), its not going to be a good idea to program another heavy leg movement for a few days at the risk of doing damage; this is when injury occurs). Over time, insufficient repair time, stemming from training sessions that are too intense (RX’ing a workout that you should have scaled), too frequently, leads to overtraining and insufficient recovery means poor physical performance (WOD times get worse and loads that were previously easier get difficult).
Yet don’t get it confused- A good athletes training program is to be constantly varied, in which muscles and energy systems regularly encounter an unaccustomed stress to which will be and should be difficult, but a healthy body will have no choice but to respond and adapt with willingness to improve and grow stronger.
By virtue of its structure, the body adapts and can go further than the average person pushes it- but for the Elite athlete that presses it faster than it adapts, risks overtraining and exhaustion. Remember that rest is NOT laziness and it truly is part of the program.

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Neuroendocrine refers to interactions between the nervous system and the endocrine system. Muscle growth and strength increases largely depend on the neuroendocrine adaptations and acute responses evoked during exercise.
Unfortunately, one of the critical elements missing from isolation ‘weight-training’ movements (ex. bicep curls) is they invoke essentially no Neuroendocrine response.
A vital hormonal response to athletic development is a substantial testosterone increase, along with an insulin-like growth factor and human growth hormone. Exercising with protocols known to elevate these hormones eerily mimics the hormonal changes sought in exogenous hormonal therapy (steroid use). Training Programs that induce a high neuroendocrine response produce top tier athletes. Increased muscle mass and bone density are just two of many adaptive responses to exercises capable of producing a significant Neuro. response.
A starting point recommended for ‘weightlifting’ would be mastering ‘powerlifting’
(the sport of three lifts: the Bench Press, Squat and Deadlift) to be followed later by the more dynamic ‘Clean’, ‘Jerk’, the ‘Clean & Jerk’ and the ‘Snatch’. Being not only demanding of precision and athleticism, these multi-joint compounds elicit a profound Neuroendocrine response, emphasizing constant engagement of midline, working core to extremities.
Simply put, in order to maximize neuroendocrine response focus on working large muscle groups before smaller muscle groups. Use higher volume and moderate to high intensity with shorter rest intervals between sets.
If you are not an avid Olympic Weightlifter, activate a higher Neuro. response, by programming your smaller muscle groups with your largest muscle groups. (ex. Superset your Bicep Curls with DeadLifts, your Tricep Extensions with Bench Press, Shoulder Laterals with Squats). Recruit an even larger response by incorporating Compound movements (ex. a Front Squat with an Overhead Press, a Sumo Deadlift with an Upright Row, a Back Squat with a wide grip Behind the neck Press).
Maximize you Natural Growth Hormone by recruiting more muscle fibers, more quickly and more intensely.

For far too long, the front squat has served as the least favored of squatting variations.You can’t front squat as much as you can back squat, so you simply discard it- toss it into the pile of lifts less regarded. The front squat engages your quads to a greater degree and, because of the more upright body positioning required, hammers your core to its max. For avid Olympic lifters with interest in improving your Cleans, Jerks and Push Presses, immediate benefits emanate from the front squat. The bar positioning and body posture in the front squat offer the most direct transference to Olympic lifting of any squatting variation.

CrossFit Northern California Regional 2012
The power clean is a mainstay of the strength workouts of many sports programs. A survey of 137 Division I football coaches found that 85 percent used the power clean to train their athletes, and a survey of NFL coaches found that 88 percent used the lift with their athletes. It’s a good decision.

In 2004 researchers at the Department of Health and Exercise Science at the College of New Jersey set up a 15-week strength training study of 20 Division III college players. The athletes were divided into two groups, one focusing on Olympic lifting (OL) exercises and the other focusing on powerlifting (PL) exercises. Both groups improved their results in the vertical jump, but the OL group improved more.

So now that we know that strength coaches believe in the power clean and there is research to support its effectiveness in developing power, the question is “What is the best method to perform the power clean?”

From the hang position versus from the the floor- When we say “hang,” this means starting with the bar on the mid-thigh. In performing this lift, the athlete places the bar on the mid-thigh, bends the legs slightly, and then pulls the bar to the shoulders. This is in contrast to lifting a weight from the blocks set at mid-thigh, as this variation would not involve the countermovement.
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Regarding the matter of intensity, often an athlete can lift more weight from the hang than they can from the floor. One reason is that the bar is already positioned at a favorable leverage position, whereas pulling from the floor to hit that same position requires considerable skill. Another reason is that many athletes who use the hang style place the bar in the crease between the upper leg and hips. This enables the athlete to add a kick from the legs to help increase the force applied to the bar.

For the following four reasons, we say the power clean from the floor is superior.

First, any exercise that is performed through a partial range of motion will compromise soft-tissue integrity. For example, we’ve found that athletes who perform box squats are often tight in the piriformis muscle, which is a muscle involved in the external rotation of the upper leg. For athletes involved in sports in which they need to change direction quickly, such as basketball or soccer, having tightness in the piriformis will adversely affect their performance.

Second, the power clean from the mid-thigh works the legs through a shorter range of motion. This translates into less development of the hamstrings, glutes and quads. One reason weightlifters usually have better total leg development than powerlifters is that they work the legs through a greater range of motion. Further, with the hyper-wide squat stances often used in powerlifting competitions, the quads are not as important to performance of the lift as they were in the past, and this is reflected in powerlifters’ leg development.

Third, cleaning from the mid-thigh often causes hyperextension of the spine. In an attempt to use more weight, athletes using the hang technique often hyperextend their spine, placing adverse stress on the disks. In fact, one reason the Olympic press was disliked by many weightlifters was that the layback they used often caused lower back pain. The result was that in 1972 the Olympic press was eliminated from weightlifting competition, leaving only the snatch and the clean and jerk.

Fourth, when lifting from the hang, athletes tend to use their arms too much, and that means they are primarily using the upper body to perform the movement. If an athlete does both the hang power clean and the power clean from the floor, the excessive arm pull will adversely affect technique in the power clean from the floor.

Often athletes avoid power cleans from the floor because they do not have the flexibility to perform the exercise properly. Instead of giving up by continuing to use the mid-thigh variation, they should perform the appropriate stretching and structural balance training to correct the problem so they can do power cleans from the floor correctly and comfortably.

As proven by sport science research and the popularity of the power clean among strength coaches, it is a superior exercise for developing total body power. But to get the most benefits from the lift and with the least amount of stress on the back, it should be performed from the floor, not the mid-thigh.

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The law of overload is one of the first principles in exercise physiology, and no resistance program is successful without it.
The key to building massive, powerful muscles is to doggedly increase the training weights you use.
Overload must be approached using sound scientific training and common sense. Sure, you can do dumbbell curls while you lunge, but don’t con yourself into believing you are providing any sort of serious overload to your legs. Want real overload? Hit the squat rack.
When it comes to making gains and adding size, the first and most obvious way is adding more weight. New Trainees should take advantage of this method. Increased increments of weight for new lifters should progress steadily over a period of two to three months before hitting a plateau.  When plateaus are reached, periods of increased loading come into play. Half-pound plates added to a bench press weekly over the course of a year would equal a 52-pound gain, one pound plates would equal a 104-pound gain, so realize that micro-progression is progression to long term success.
This pace is undoubtedly impossible to maintain forever, so this is when you would increase the volume.
Volume is increased by performing more sets with weight over 65 percent of a one-rep max. Anything less than is not heavy enough to have a real training effect. There are a number of ways to add volume to your routine. Try adding an extra set to your workout. If you benched 4 sets of 5 with 200 pounds last time, you performed 4000 pounds of volume- if you do 5 sets next week, that becomes 5000 pounds of volume. One extra set has a profound effect on total volume. As long as you don’t sacrifice intensity in the process, you’ll find that higher volume is superior for increasing strength and hypertrophy.
Another alternative in making progression is to take a full range of motion exercise and turn it into an extended range of motion. Range of motion can have a huge impact on a movement. Examples of this would be deficit Deadlifts, or snatch grip Deadlifts. A deficit Deadlift is performed while standing on a plate a couple of inches off the ground to increase the range of motion. While performing this movement with only 80 percent of a one-rep max, is still more difficult than a regular Deadlift at the same weight. With snatch grip Deadlifts, by adding the extended grip, causes an overload in the movement, thus adding an extra level of difficulty.

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Another way to catalyze hypertrophy- incorporate prolonged negatives into each repetition to increase muscular tension, while using explosive movements through the beginning of the movement. An example of this would be in curling a Barbell. In the initial movement of the curl, apply explosive force, while in the negative movement, slowly release back to starting position. This is known as the principle of retro-gravity. To add even more intensity, try doing the same amount of work with decreased rest intervals. More volume in less time will add gains to your strength once you have reached a maximum weight. In order to surpass a plateau, hypertrophy must be maintained, therefore shorter rest times are not an excuse for lighter weight!
For powerlifters, Olympic lifters, and anyone else that competes in specified lifts, the core lifts have to remain at the nucleus of the program- But for Bodybuilders or anyone just looking for a shredded set of wheels; front squats, leg extensions, Olympic pause squats, leg press and many other variations can be incorporated for alternate workouts.
Finally for increased hypertrophy, simply increase your intensity-  train more often. Training in squats twice a week overloads your system more than squatting once a week.

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Building strength and mastering control of your body, is basis for building proficient lifting techniques.Once you are able to perform a task with greater ability, you can then do so at a faster pace. This defines power. Power can be referred to as strength speed.

Certain lifts, movements, and drills when performed at a faster rate, produce power output, but none of this can be done without first having built a foundation of ability to perform even the most basic tasks. In explanation, a novice needs to master the ability to properly perform movements such as Deadlifts, Squats, and Overhead Press, before trying to grab a bar to perform Clean and Jerks.

Everyone’s Deadlift is much higher than his or her power clean. What you really need is explosive strength. This shows most obviously when your leg extension goes beyond ninety degrees. The faster you go from ninety to 180 degrees, the more you are going to power clean. Those fibers will have to keep firing all through that portion of the lift…Power.

‘Making the plates rattle’ A sure fire way to know that your power is explosive all the way through, to the top of the lift along with significant speed. This is a training tool I use to ensure powerful force in driving upward.

Conclusively- Key mechanism of speed, power and strength, working in complete correlation are necessary components for successful Olympic Lifts.

 

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You must train hard and apply sufficient overload to build muscle, but how hard do you really need to push it? Should you put the weight down once you reach 10, when the muscle starts to feel uncomfortable or when you can’t do any more reps with good form? It’s an important distinction you need to understand.

If you’re training for maximal strength, you do not want to train to muscular failure, as it’s simply too taxing on the nervous system and counterproductive to maximum strength development.

However, if hypertrophy (an increase in the size of the muscle cells/fibers) is your goal, it’s a different story. Training to muscular failure—when you can no longer produce sufficient muscle force to complete another rep with good form—has been shown to be most effective.

THE LIMITATION WITH TRAINING TO FAILURE IS CLEAR: IT MUST BE USED WITH CAUTION AS THERE’S A POTENTIAL FOR OVERTRAINING WHEN USED LONG-TERM, A STATE IN WHICH GROWTH COMES TO A GRINDING HALT.

That’s because the nature of this kind of training recruits as many muscle fibers as it can, and produces increased secretion of growth-promoting hormones. Training to failure also induces more metabolic stress to contribute to a greater degree of hypertrophic response.
If you employ this training method, cycle in periods of lower-intensity training.

For bodybuilders, it’s important to use this variable strategically, as it shouldn’t be used all the time.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION

Training to muscular failure is an effective training variable for hypertrophy when used properly and not overdone. To avoid overtraining and maximize this variable, training to failure should be used intensively for some cycles and avoided during other times.

 The Bulgarian split squat is often referred to simply as a “split squat,” but to be accurate a split squat has the rear leg on the ground. The Bulgarian squat moves your back foot onto a bench, encouraging core strength and overall balance while moving the lower body through a large range of motion. It also increases hip flexor flexibility, which translates positively into gains in the squats and elsewhere.

Lest we forget, it’s also a grade-A glute thrasher. Unfortunately, people often go too light with this movement to discover this benefit. That’s a shame, because the Bulgarian split squat is highly effective with a heavy load, even if that load is still a fraction of what you could lift with bilateral squat variations. Dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbags, barbells, and chains all work well to add weight and intensity in unilateral squats, but be warned that each also comes with unique balance challenges.