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 reason 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 people’s 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 every day. 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 headfirst 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. 

 

 

Neuroendocrine refers to interactions between the nervous system and the endocrine system. Muscle growth and strength increase 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 and the Snatch. Being not only demanding of precision and athleticism, but these multi-joint compounds also 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 your natural growth hormone by recruiting more muscle fibers, more quickly, and more intensely.

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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 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. The 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, it 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.

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.

Building strength and mastering control of your body is the 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 the 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.

If your workout consists of heavy lifting and your pre-workout consists of a 200M run and a couple of air squats, it may be time to adjust your regimen.

As every Weightlifter understands, doing full snatches, clean and jerks, or any heavy lift, requires a high degree of flexibility in every part of the body. All the major muscle groups and corresponding attachments are involved in competitive lifts: shoulder girdle, back, and hips, and legs. A lack of flexibility in the shoulders will prevent the lifter from locking out snatches and jerks. It may also keep one from racking a weight on his shoulders while cleaning. Tightness in the hips will have an adverse effect on getting into a low position for snatches and cleans. Not only preventing the correct execution of a lift, but lack of flexibility in any heavy lift also makes one more susceptible to injury.

Because every part of the body is activated during the execution of Olympic lifts, every joint and muscle group needs to be given some attention before doing any heavy lifting. This is where there is confusion between the two disciplines needed to enhance flexibility: warming up and stretching. While closely related, they are not the same. Merely stretching a muscle or joint isn’t sufficient preparation for a heavy session in the weight room that will be filled with complicated athletic movements.

Warming up and stretching are both vital disciplines for all heavy lifters. Everyone knows a warm muscle is more elastic and reacts better to movement than a cold one, and it’s only common sense to know supple muscles are less prone to injury than tight ones.

In the gym, we like to take you through many variations of warm-ups and movements to prepare you for your workout.  You may be wondering if there is a vital importance in completing a warm-up and movements? The answer you will get from all the trainers in the gym is, “ABSOLUTELY!”  But that doesn’t always answer the question of why it is important that we spend the time to get you properly warmed up and mobilized. After various warm-ups consisting of inch worms, rowing, running, and other movements in order to get your body temperature rising, we like to spend time mobilizing and practicing movements that are associated with the workload for the workout. This type of movement is called Dynamic Stretching. Once you are properly warmed up, we take you through a series of movements that consist of air squats, leg kicks, lunges, and jump squats. This series of dynamic movements would be great for setting you up to do a strength series of squats, deadlifts, or split-squats. Dynamic stretching is an active movement of muscle that brings forth a stretch but is not held in the end position. This is very critical and important. Dynamic stretching will be beneficial to your performance and set you up for the current workload. Why is this critical and important? Here is science. Your body has many mechanisms that need to be activated and stimulated. When you put your body through a series of stretches while in motion, it sends signals from the brain to the muscle fibers and connective tissues in that area to prepare to do work. Your body’s temperature begins to rise and blood is pumped to the working areas of the body. Getting good blood flow to the area of the working muscles is very critical in order to supply the area with the energy needed to do work. Along with getting proper blood flow to the working area, the muscle fibers and connective tissues will gain more flexibility and range of motion. Many studies have shown that dynamic stretching can help increase power, improve flexibility, and increase your range of motion.

In other words, by doing dynamic stretching after your warm-up and before your workout, you are going to feel stronger and work up to a heavier load.  Another point to remember here is that dynamic movements are very sport and movement specific.  We will change the types of movements you do in the warm-up dependent upon what the workload is going to be for that day. Additionally, your range of motion and flexibility will also be greater. Have you ever done air squats at the beginning of a warm-up and felt like it was terrible, but after doing a proper warm-up and working on the movements which mimic and simulate squatting, your actual squat will then feel more natural and will flow much smoother.

Jumping rope is an excellent exercise to help improve stamina and conditioning. One method to make jumping rope more challenging is to do “Double Unders,” which means you swing the jump rope two times underneath your feet with only one jump.

Double Unders have gained popularity more recently as an exercise used in CrossFit workouts and competitions. The goal is to start doing double-unders consecutively, which is a seriously intense workout.

 

Double Unders Tip #1: Jump High & Jump Slow

Double under requires that you jump much higher than a normal jump rope revolution. In fact, you can jump just an inch off the ground during your normal jump rope routine, but a double under requires you to jump much higher. Jumping higher and slower helps create enough time for you to swing the jump rope 2 times underneath your feet as opposed to just once. As you get better and more efficient at doing double-unders, you won’t have to jump as high.

Double Unders Tip #2: Use Your Wrists

Probably the #1 most common jump rope mistake is when beginners flail their arms as opposed to turning their wrists in order to create momentum for the jump rope to start revolving. This is similar to a swimmer being very inefficient in the water: an inefficient swimmer gets tired very fast and doesn’t go fast. With jumping rope, you want you’re skipping to be as efficient as possible so you don’t waste too much energy. If you do, you won’t last for much more than 30 seconds, or a minute. Jumping rope is all in the wrists, which should be roughly at your waist.

Double Unders Tip #3: Keep Your Elbows In

Another related mistake beginners make is not only using too much arms but extending the arms and elbows to far away from the body. This makes the jump rope shorter so revolutions become more difficult and it’s harder to hold your arms extended from your body. Instead, keep your elbows close to your sides.

Double Unders Tip #4: Keep Your Torso Upright

Because double-unders require that you generate significant speed to spin the rope around 2x with one jump, beginners will often bend the torso forward in an effort to shorten the distance the jump rope needs to cover. Instead, remain upright with only a slight bend in your torso as in the photo below.

Double Unders Tip #5: Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice makes perfect. If you are just starting out with double-unders, I recommend the following progression:

  1. Start jumping rope normally, then on the 5th rep do a double under, then stop

  2. Repeat until you consistently complete a double under

  3. Next, do 100 jump rope reps, with every 10th jump being a double under

  4. Repeat until you can do this without stopping

  5. Start jumping rope normally then on the 5th rep do a double under, and on the 6th rep do a double under

  6. Repeat until you can do this easily

  7. Now start doing consecutive double-unders with as many as you can in a row!

Eventually, you will be able to complete 25+ double-unders. As a simple and effective workout, complete as many double-unders as you can to failure for 5-10 rounds with 30 seconds rest in between each set.

Most athletes respond best to a high frequency and high volume of Weightlifting and perform best when not handling maximum poundages at each session.

The Heavy-Light-Medium training system gives the athlete the volume and frequency that they need to drive progress, and ensure ongoing success while allowing enough recovery for one heavy day each week for maximum output. The benefit that this program has for athletes cannot be overstated.  Non-barbell sports athletes must balance training for their sport and training in the weight room. Most sports are demanding of the lower body and many athletes will not have enough reserves in their tank to squat heavy more than once per week. The HLM system allows the athlete to place their heavy squat day on the day of the week that allows them to train in their most recovered state. During the rest of the week, the athletes will have to perform strength workouts in a state of fatigue. The HLM system makes this a little easier to manage. On the light and medium days, the athlete will be focusing on form and technique, and speed.

As a starting point though, start your light day 10-20% lower than your heavy day, and set your medium day 5-10%  less than your heavy day.

I often get asked about weightlifting shoes. Are they really worth the investment? I always reply the same way- Would an avid runner wear shoes that are made for hiking? Probably not. Shoes are designed for specific sports and activities. Running shoes have an inbuilt cushion to absorb impact with each step you take. Although this is great for running, it’s not so great for Weightlifting. Rather than absorb force, you need a shoe that will help you use all the force your body produces to help you move the weight. The more force you can produce, the more weight you can move. This is especially important in Olympic Lifts.

Weightlifting shoes have a raised heel. This is a massive advantage, as it allows you to squat into a deeper position through an increased ankle range of motion. This will help you to improve your overall position too, as you’ll find yourself sitting more upright. A more upright torso means more chance of keeping hold of the barbell in the correct plane and sending it in the right direction-up.

Weightlifting shoes are also extremely stable, not just underfoot, but around your foot. This ensures a strong and consistent base to land on, push through, and push into- exceptional performance and injury prevention.

Weightlifting shoes are more stable than your typical barefoot or minimalist shoe. The concept of these shoes having little or no padding is definitely in the right direction (and I had personally rather wear this type of shoe when performing the Deadlift, ensuring maximal force through the ground), but while performing other major lifts (The Clean and Jerk, Snatch and Squat), I personally think weightlifting shoes are more beneficial.

 

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If your ab training still consists of chasing some arbitrary number, like the old-school idea of 100 or 200-plus daily reps of various exercises, then maybe its time to rethink your approach. Volume alone won’t carve out your abs. Even if you’re not stuck in an outdated mindset, you can still reap the benefits of adding toes to bar to your workouts.

If you’re not familiar with the exercise, you have probably seen the movement performed. An athlete hanging straight down from a pull-up bar and swinging his feet up to touch the bar for multiple reps. Calling this move “dynamic” sells it short—it not only places incredible demands on your core muscles, but it also builds your grip, arm, and shoulder strength. The move is trickier than it looks, though, so be sure to follow these tips for proper setup and execution.

Toes to Bar in 5 Steps

Grip
Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width, wrapping your thumbs for a secure grip—when you kick your feet up, you don’t want to kick your hands.

Flex
Squeeze both your butt and abs, creating a “hollow-body” position where your feet are slightly in front of your torso. With these muscles flexed, your body’s ready to swing.

Transition
To transition from backswing to upswing, simply drive your knees toward your elbows, then extend your legs, kicking your feet toward the bar as they rise.

Downswing
As soon as your momentum toward the bar ends, pull back into an arc and squeeze your butt to load your hips for the next rep.