Archive for April, 2009


By Catherine Lewis, AHJ Editor — Published: April 27, 2009

Let’s face it, organic seems to be the way to go these days, whether its fruits, vegetables, meat or dairy. Unfortunately, organic often comes at a hefty price. If you want to go organic but can’t afford to go “all the way” due to the confines of your pocketbook, you can still get the health benefits of organic foods by knowing which foods to focus on. If you want to go “semi-organic,” you need to learn which foods have the most contaminants and which do not necessarily need to be 100 percent organic.

Some of the foods that are the most contaminated when it comes to pesticides include fruits. Fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, plums, grapes, cherries, blueberries, strawberries and other berries contain pesticides that remain on the fruit even after you wash it. Although these foods are considered “good for you” they contain pesticides that may negate their health benefits. And while you could peel certain fruits to ensure reduced exposure to pesticides (such as apples or pears), you then miss out on the important nutrients those skins provide. Fruits such as pineapple, bananas, kiwi, mangoes and oranges do not carry the same content of pesticides because of their relatively thick skins. If you want to go semi-organic, you do not need to worry so much about getting the full organic versions of these fruits. Vegetables are another type of food that many people shop organic. But if you can’t quite afford to choose organic with all of your veggies, there are some that are lower on the pesticide scale. Onions, asparagus, broccoli and cabbage all have a fairly low “pest threat” and therefore require less pesticide to begin with. Sweet peas and eggplant are two of the vegetables least likely to have pesticide residue. Sweet corn and sweet potatoes are two other options for semi-organic consumers.

But, on the other hand, there are certain vegetables where you would definitely want to choose the organic variety. These include peppers, celery, carrots, kale, leafy greens and regular potatoes. When it comes to meats, you should look for organic meats and poultry as the regular versions often contain growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticide residue (from the grain fed to the animals) and other harmful chemicals. The same goes for milk and other dairy products. For your best health, it would be wise to invest in organic meats and dairy.

Fish is one food that you might not think you have to worry about when it comes to organics, especially “wild” fish. After all, how could something grown in the wild be non-organic? It may seem like a backwards way to go about it, but wild fish are not included on the USDA’s list of organic foods. It actually comes down to what the fish eat: in a controlled fish farm environment, the farmers can ensure the fish are fed only organic nutrients. But in the wild, that same guarantee does not exist. Currently a limited amount of seafood is being sold as organic at stores in the United States, usually because it was certified by other countries or by third-party accreditation agencies.

One type of food you might not think to go organic with is bread. Organic breads do not contain the additives and preservatives that regular breads do, which mean fewer chemicals to which you and your family are exposed. Remember that if you go for organic breads, they will not last as long as breads that are filled with preservatives, so choose a smaller loaf if you don’t think you can finish it before the mold sets in. Want to go a health step further? Opt for whole grain breads when going organic.

Similar to breads, cereals are another item in which you want to go organic. The amount of chemicals in regular cereals, not to mention the sugars, is frightening. If you want to feed your family healthy cereal, look for organic versions. Most are available at your local grocery store or health food store. It’s true . . . organic foods are more costly and can be out of the price range for some people. But, the good news is that you do not have to go organic all the way to enjoy the benefits of organic foods. By choosing some foods that are organic and others that are still considered “healthy,” you are well on your way to improving your health and well being, as well as that of your family.

Get Strong! Stay Strong! (and feed the machine!)





We all know about the federal government’s recommendation to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. As if anyone needed the reminder, since most any American childhood includes even more parental reminders to eat your vegetables than turn in your homework.

Well, a good many of us know that the government upped that number to nine servings per day a few years back. Five, nine, it all takes some planning to fit produce into your days. There are some convenient steps you can take to increase your intake without much trouble: Add diced baby carrots to your spaghetti sauce, which won’t affect taste. If you tend to skip breakfast, stop for two minutes total to blend milk, frozen fruit and ice (adding protein and flax meal makes it a power meal), drink it and wash the cup and blender.

Another idea is make a habit of slicing strawberries, kiwi or grapes into your salad; you can also use dried fruits such as raisins or cranberries. Don’t knock the fruit-in-salad idea until you try it.

Here’s the best shortcut for maximizing the nutritional power of your fruits and veggies, even if you slide somewhere between five and nine servings daily. Think deep pigment, as in blueberries, pomegranate, dark leafy greens, red grapes, beets, blackberries, kiwi and more.

Color and pigment in your fruits and veggies represent a greater concentration of substances that fight cancer and prevention artery-clogging cholesterol among other healthful duties. Deeper pigment indicates more flavonoids (purple, red and blue potatoes have a surprising amount), carotenoids (think yellow, orange, red and green) and anthocyanins (reds, most blues and purples). The more pigment, the better to protect against disease and aging.

Researchers are perhaps most excited about the potential to stay younger with pigment on your plate for meals and snacks. All of a sudden, strawberries or even the super-food blueberries in your salad don’t sound so bad, right?

“What strikes me about the substances associated with pigment in fruits and vegetables is its ability to change motor behavior for the better,” said James Joseph, chief of the neuroscience lab at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center at Tufts University in Boston. “There is virtually nothing else out there that can change motor behavior in aging.”

For instance, Joseph has conducted several studies about blueberries, showing the once mild-mannered fruit can protect against loss of balance, coordination and other motor skills more effectively than spinach. As a bonus, blueberries also stave off age-related memory loss. It is no accident that blueberry juice is a top-seller in Japan.

Get Strong! Stay Strong! (and eat your fruits and veggies!)



By Patrick Ward, MS, CSCS

Lets face it – strength athletes are animals! They train. They train hard. And they leave it all on the table! Some of the best workouts I’ve been a part of took place in a garage in suburban America where we were flipping tires, performing Olympic lifts and heavy deadlifts and pretty much going balls to the wall. While the strength athletes are certainly gung-ho about their workout, often the most overlooked component to their entire training plan is the recovery and regeneration. “That stuff is for sissies!” “If I’m not pushing max weights, I’m not making progress!” These two dogmas couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, with some proper planning and attention to recovery, strength athletes could potentially make the gains that have eluded them for the past few years. In addition, it’s important to remember that in the gym we tear down tissue. We grow and get stronger when we rest and allow our body to adapt to the training stresses we have just imposed on it. If we never give it time to adapt and get stronger, then we’re constantly in a phase of breaking down, and that certainly will catch up to us in time. I have outlined five recovery strategies that can be beneficial to all athletes (not just strength athletes) and instrumental in avoiding overtraining, potentially preventing injury and setting you up for continued progress in the weight room.

1) Unload Give yourself a break some times! Yes, progressive overload is important to making gains. But, backing off and giving your nervous system a break is also important. You can’t max out every day (and probably not every week even…at least not for any considerable amount of time) as you will likely hit the wall sooner rather than later. Unloading could be accomplished in a variety of ways. It could be just lowering the intensity (the amount of load lifted in relation to your 1RM for a given lift) for a week.

For example, if you are squatting 4 sets x 5 reps @ 87%, the following week you could unload the intensity by performing 4 sets x 5 reps @ 75%.

It could be in the form of lowering the volume. So, if you are working on squatting 4 sets x 5 reps @ 87%, next week you could unload by performing 5 sets x 2 reps at 87% before ramping back up. Or, it could be in the form of just taking a few days off and maybe partaking in some active rest (an easy walk, riding the bike, etc).

Whatever you choose, allowing yourself to back off a little bit not only helps the nervous system recover from all the heavy/intense training, but it also gives the joints and tendons some time to recover, since going heavy too frequently can lead to a lot of aches and pains.

An easy way to set up time for unloading is to use a 4-week schedule. Week number four is always going to be your unload week before starting to work the intensity back up or changing the training focus (IE, from strength emphasis to power emphasis) in the next 4-week wave. The 4-week wave also fits nicely into a month training plan, which is why I like it. While there are many ways to incorporate unloading into your program (and some of this will be dictated by your sport and the amount of time you have to prepare for competition), here are two generic examples to give you an idea:

Example 1 High Volume Moderate Volume Very High Volume Unload Exercise Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Bench press 4×5 3×5 6×5 2×5 Chin ups 3×8 2×8 4×8 2×8 (decrease load or use body weight if you typically use extra weight for work sets)

Example 2: Base week Moderate Intensity High Intensity Unload Exercise Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Bench press 3×5@80% 4×5@82% 6×3 start at 85% and work up to a max over 6 sets 2×8@70% Chin ups 3×8 3×5 5×5 2×8 (decrease load or use body weight if you typically use extra weight for work sets)

2) Nutrition Around The Workout   What you eat is critical to what you get as a return on your training investment. Making sure you’re getting quality calories is important to ensure that your body is fueled up for the next training bout. Incorporating a post-workout shake or meal is also important to help replenish muscle glycogen (stored energy) that was burned during your workout and to start repairing damaged tissue (protein synthesis). This year I had the opportunity to attend the NSCA’s 31st National Conference. Joel Cramer PhD, Jeff Stout PhD, and Joseph Weir PhD gave a three-part talk on Nutritional Supplementation Before, During and After Resistance Training. They really drove home the point that we need to be on top of our supplementation around workout time. One thing that they talked a lot about was the potential for protein synthesis to be maximally stimulated by increasing amino acid delivery to the muscles at the time when blood flow is increased (which is just prior to and during our workout). After presenting the research, Jeff Stout concluded that, “consuming carbohydrate and protein pre-, during and post-resistance training can significantly reduce muscle damage. By reducing muscle damage, athletes should be able to increase speed of recovery, and allow for them to participate in the next high-intensity exercise sooner.” A simple way to put this into practice is to bring a shake to the gym that you can sip on just before and during your workout. Sometimes, because of how whey protein is, it is not the best texture to sip on during training. If this is the case for you, there are a number of Branched Chain Amino Acid (BCAA) products out there which have a much more manageable texture and taste for prior and during the workout (some of them taste a lot like Gatorade).

3) Paying Attention To Things That Hurt   The five worst words in the English language are “maybe it will go away.” If something hurts, it means that something is wrong. Figure out what that something is and correct it before it turns into a bigger problem. Oftentimes, little, nagging problems can be fixed by incorporating some stretching and corrective exercise into your daily routine. This doesn’t mean you have to join a yoga class or stop lifting heavy and pick up five pound dumbbells and wave them around like an idiot on one leg. But, it does mean that you need to be aware of what is going on with your body and know what to do to fix it. Corrective exercise and stretching are not stressful on the system and can help with your recovery and regeneration. Perform some of the corrective exercises prior to your lifting, as part of your overall general warm-up and perform stretches post-workout once the muscles are warm. As well, since they are not stressful, you can perform the corrective exercise and stretches on off days. In fact, this is recommended, as it will help make the effects of these modalities more long-lasting. Performing some flexibility and mobility work on off days can be a great way to get active rest and keep the body healthy.

4) Low-Activity Exercise To Help Recovery   Obviously I am not talking about preparing for a marathon here. While it is understood that training for maximal strength and performing high amounts of endurance work are not compatible, the strength athlete can gain some benefit from some low activity exercise on off days. By low activity exercise, I mean some brisk walking or riding a bike, or as Louie Simmons used to propose – sled dragging to raise General Physical Preparedness (GPP). Whatever method you choose, the goal should be to get the heart rate up a little bit, which helps to get some blood flowing to the muscles and helps to remove some waste and by-products built up from training. It also raises your work capacity, which can be extremely important as the higher your work capacity, the greater amount of training volume you will be able to handle in the weight room. I like to perform this type of work after a heavy leg day to help get blood move through my lower body and help decrease some of the soreness/stiffness that I may be feeling. In addition to the recovery benefits (and the general health benefits to performing some cardiovascular work), this can also be helpful for strength athletes who need to burn extra calories in order to make weight for a competition – although you really need to focus on your diet for that, as doing too much cardiovascular activity can prevent further strength gains. While many people use interval training for fat loss (which I am a big fan of), sometimes a lot of interval work can be taxing on the lower body – which can be detrimental to progress for a strength athlete who is training their lower body heavy (usually 2x’s a week to boot) and dieting down to get to a certain weight class. Throwing a few days a week of interval training on top of that could be a recipe for trouble.

5) Soft-Tissue Work   Self-care is very important for everyone, not just strength athletes. Working on your soft tissue can be helpful in preventing trigger points and myofascial pain. A lot of the nagging injuries we sustain can be combated with a consistent dose of good soft tissue work as it keeps the tissues healthy, pliable, and gel-like. Finding a good therapist and getting work done (even if it is just once a month) can be exceptional. It doesn’t matter what type of therapist you go to, (NMT, ART, MFR, etc.) – the treatment is only as good as the person giving it. And in reality, all of the above have a lot of similarities. The letters are mainly just nice marketing. A foam roller and/or a tennis ball are great tools to use for self-care when you can’t get to a skilled therapist. Roll on either of these and locate tight, tender, or sensitive bands of tissue within our muscles, then maintain pressure on those bands for a short period of time before moving onto the next area of congestion. This can help break apart fascial adhesions and/or trigger points which have formed in areas of stress within the muscle. I wrote a more comprehensive article, Trigger Point 101, on this subject which is worth reading if you are interested in learning more:

Conclusion   There are many other techniques that can be used to help aid in recovery between training bouts, but hopefully these five tips give you some ideas to play with. Taking care of your body should be the goal of any great program. If you are strong, but you are always in pain – then your training is all for naught and the break-downs will eventually catch up to you. Understanding what you can do to help keep your joints and connective tissue healthy and keep your nervous system firing on all cylinders will not only assist you in making continued progress, but will also ensure that you can do it for a long time to come.

Get Strong! Stay Strong! (and recover properly!)



By Alwyn Cosgrove

When I started out in the fitness-training field, the average client tended to be an active person who used gym exercise to augment the other types of activity he got outside the gym. Few of us specialized in fat-loss training, simply because it wasn’t the primary goal of the majority of our clients. It was a nice side-effect of solid workouts and a good diet, but it wasn’t the main reason our clients came to work with us. Today, it’s the opposite. What we do with our clients in the gym may be the only exercise they get in a typical week. We regularly see clients who work 50 hours a week, not counting the two hours a day they spend commuting. Many of them can’t train on weekends because of work-related travel, or because it’s the only chance they get to spent time with their spouses and kids. Since opening our facility in 2000, we’ve measured the body-fat percentages, abilities, range of motion, and posture of all our beginning members. I can say this unequivocally: The average beginner today arrives fatter and in worse shape than the average beginner just nine years ago. That presents a huge problem for us. We have to address posture, strength, mobility, flexibility, elasticity, and cardio-respiratory endurance simultaneously. And we’re lucky if we get three hours a week to do it. A traditional program won’t work for this population. Now, before anyone counters with “dedicated people make time,” let me assure you that I’m talking about people who are dedicated. Let me describe two of my former clients:

Client #1: a professional motocross rider • Races 45 weekends a year • Flies out to the race site on Friday, competes Saturday and Sunday, and flies home on Monday • Practices Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday • Trains with me Tuesday and Thursday • Starts all over again on Friday This is a guy who’s married, with two young sons. Is he not dedicated? Do you see any additional room in his schedule that would allow him to train more than he does?

Client #2: a doctor • Works 60 to 70 hours a week, and is often on call longer than that • Commutes an hour to work each way • Married with three kids • Attends his kids’ soccer games, and tries to spend to spend as much time as possible with his family • Trains with me three times a week Is he not a dedicated person? Should he devote more hours to the gym, at the expense of saving lives or spending time with his family?

The solution: To give these dedicated but time-challenged clients the best possible results, we need to hack traditional training down to its most basic and fundamental elements. Hacking 101 You may be familiar with the term “life hack.” Basically, it’s a time-management system in which you hack away the unessential stuff in your life to increase productivity. If we define productivity as “maximizing results per unit of time invested,” we can see the benefits of it. The goal is to spend less time doing things that bring us little if any benefit, and more time doing the things that improve our income, prospects, pleasure, and quality of life. Another way to look at it: maximize productivity by minimizing redundancy. As a fitness professional and owner of a training facility, I realized I had to hack our training programs if I had any hope of keeping pace with the rapidly changing needs of our clients. For example, it’s not uncommon to see programs that include three exercises or more for each body part. So for biceps, you might see the barbell curl, EZ-bar curl, and seated dumbbell curl — three exercises that are more similar than different. Barbell curls, EZ-bar curls, and seated dumbbell curls are essentially the same exercise. Our first hack would be to switch to barbell curls and incline dumbbell curls. Now we’ve reduced the total number of exercises by a third, and we’ve also chosen a non-redundant exercise — the incline curl — to give us a different angle of pull and allow us to hit more muscle fibers. A second hack would choose one of those exercises as our sole focus. A third and final hack — the “max hack” — would eliminate the isolation work completely. Instead, we’d do close-grip chins, which would target the biceps effectively enough while also recruiting lots more muscle and building total-body strength.

Body by Pareto The Pareto principle, also known as the 80-20 rule, is an important key to successful hacking of any type — whether we’re talking about training, running a business, or the overall management of our lives. It’s named for Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist who in 1906 observed that 80 percent of the wealth in Italy (and every country he subsequently studied) was owned by 20 percent of the population. After Pareto published his findings, many others observed similar ratios in their own areas of expertise. In the early 1940s, an industrial-efficiency expert named Joseph Juran applied Pareto’s ideas to project management, describing the principle of “the vital few and trivial many.” Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, popularized the idea for my generation of entrepreneurs when he observed that 80 percent of his income came from 20 percent of his clients. So he hacked off 80 percent of his clients, effectively reducing his workload by 80 percent, and focused on the clients who accounted for 80 percent of his income. Yes, at first he took a 20 percent pay cut, but his productivity and income soared on a per-hour basis. You can apply the Pareto principle to workout hacking with the assumption that 80 percent of the consequences come from 20 percent of the causes. Or, put another way, 20 percent of the exercises you do produce 80 percent of your results. Let’s say you have a total-body workout with 10 exercises. If we hacked out eight of the 10 exercises, and just kept squats and chin-ups, would you expect to get just 20 percent of the results? Chances are it would be the opposite — you might get 80 percent of the results by focusing on just 20 percent of the exercises. So most of your results come from just two exercises, and relatively few results come from the other eight. It’s easy to see why. Compound exercises recruit more muscle, allow you to use bigger loads, and burn more calories than isolation exercises. That’s why you want to build your program around them, and why your workouts should start with exercises like deadlifts or squats, the ones that produce the best results on a rep-by-rep basis.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you’ll get 100 percent of the results you want with a hacked program. The goal of hacking out what’s unessential from your training program is to free up more of your time without significantly diminishing your results. Don’t hack for the sake of hacking; you want to eliminate redundant or trivially beneficial exercises so you can accomplish other goals, in or out of the gym. In the next few sections I’ll show you examples we’ve used successfully with clients in our facility. As you’ll see, there’s a sound basis in science for most of these hacks.

The Frequency and Volume Hack Back in 2000, a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compared equal-volume resistance training over one day or three days per week. [1] The participants in the study were experienced lifters. Group one performed the entire workout — three sets of each exercise — on one day. Group two performed the same volume of work, but spread it out over three days. So they did one set of each exercise in each workout. The researchers found that the once-per-week group achieved just 62 percent of the strength improvements of the three-times-per-week group, and also gained less muscle. The men in the second group put on nine pounds of muscle, vs. four pounds for those in the first group. This gives us an idea of how to start our training hack: It’s better to reduce volume per workout than it is to reduce frequency. So if you work out three times a week, it’s better to make those workouts shorter than to do longer workouts less often.

A review published in Sports Medicine in 2007 looked at several studies on strength training and hypertrophy across different populations.[2] It concluded that, for hypertrophy, it’s better to train each muscle group three times a week. Anecdotally, we know that a lot of bodybuilders use an increased frequency to bring up a lagging body part. If the problem is that every body part needs to be brought up, then three total-body workouts should work better than a series of split routines in which body parts are hit just once or twice per week. The Sets and Reps Hack Now that we’ve settled on three total-body workouts a week, we have to figure out how to hack unessential elements of those workouts to keep them at a reasonable length. But we still want results, so we have to figure out how best to employ sets and reps to increase size and strength.

A study published in JSCR in 2002 compared two different types of periodization.[3] Traditional linear periodization works something like this: In weeks one to four, you’d do eight reps per set of all your exercises. In weeks five to eight, you’d do six reps, and in weeks nine to 12 you’d do four reps. So you’d progress from a hypertrophy protocol to one that emphasizes pure strength. Undulating periodization aims to achieve those goals simultaneously, so on Monday you’d do four reps per set, on Wednesday you’d do six reps, and on Friday you’d do eight reps. The researchers found that undulating periodization was better than linear periodization for strength gains. Thus, we’ll use three distinct ranges of sets and reps in our three total-body workouts each week. That brings us to the next big question: Which exercises should we use?

Exercise Hack At the 2000 annual conference of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, researchers at Ball State presented a study that compared the effects of two different workouts on upper-arm circumference.[4] One group did four compound upper-body exercises in each workout, while the other did those four exercises plus biceps curls and triceps extensions. Both groups increased their strength and arm size. But in 10 weeks of training, the additional arm exercises provided no additional benefit. So if you’re going to hack your training program to make it as efficient as possible without sacrificing benefits, you can eliminate direct arm training with isolation exercises. Big arms, no curls. Workout Duration Hack Sir Charles Scott Sherrington won the Nobel Prize in 1932 for his contributions in physiology and neuroscience. Sherrington’s law of reciprocal innervation states that “for every neural activation of a muscle, there is a corresponding inhibition of the opposing muscle.” This means that when you work your chest muscles, the opposite back muscles are forced to relax, thereby resting. It’s easy to apply this one: Instead of waiting two minutes between sets of bench presses, for example, you can perform one set of the bench press, rest for one minute, and then do a bent-over row. After you finish, you’ll rest for one minute, then repeat the sequence until you complete all sets of both exercises. In an average workout, this technique saves at least eight to 10 minutes without sacrificing performance.

“If you could only do one exercise … ” I hate questions like this. But I do have an answer: The snatch-grip deadlift probably works more muscle through a bigger range of motion than any other single exercise. (In other words, I’m not comparing the snatch-grip deadlift to a combination exercise like the clean and press.) So we’ll start with that as our primary exercise. Our secondary exercise will be the front squat. I also like to do single-leg exercises, so we’ll create a second total-body workout in which we use dumbbell Bulgarian split squats to target our quads, with step-ups as a hip-dominant counterpart. For upper-body exercises, we’ll stick to the ones that use the most muscle and avoid single-joint exercises.

The big four here will be chin-ups, dips (or dumbbell bench presses), dumbbell rows, and barbell push presses. We’ll do two of them in each of our total-body workouts.

Program A 1) Snatch-grip deadlift 2) Dumbbell Bulgarian split squat 3a) Dip 3b) Dumbbell row

Program B 1) Front squat 2) Step-up 3a) Barbell push press 3b) Close-grip chin-up Here’s how we’ll alternate programs A and B:

Week one: Mon: Program A Wed: Program B Fri: Program A Week two: Mon: Program B Wed: Program A Fri: Program B

Sets and reps for A and B work like this: Mon: 4 sets of 4 reps of each exercise. Rest 90 to 120 seconds between sets. Wed: 3 sets of 8 reps of each exercise. Rest 75 to 90 seconds between sets. Fri: 2 to 3 sets of 12 reps of each exercise. Rest 60 to 75 seconds between sets.

Select a load that’s appropriate for each exercise, given the rep range. You want to stop one or two reps short of failure on each set. Try this system as written for up to six weeks. You’ll do each program nine times, but only three times at each rep range. Final Thoughts Is this the perfect program? Absolutely not — the perfect program doesn’t exist. It’s just one way to hack out the unessential, trivial, and redundant exercises from your program, replacing them with the most effective exercises, and employing them in the most time-efficient way I know. Does it work? Let me put it this way: I wouldn’t still be in business if it didn’t.

Great Stuff!

Get Strong! Stay Strong!


By Phil Stevens

I don’t like Cutting Fat! Who does? But it ain’t as bad as people make it out to be.

Restriction, dieting, eating less then you need to sustain yourself, your training, your strength and hard earned muscle. No, its not fun, but in reality it isn’t that darn hard.

Not as hard as many make it out to be, and really unless your looking to get to extreme leanness its pretty damn easy and anyone who has been in the game any amount of time can tell you it’s a far cry easier then putting on an above average amount of lean mass or strength.

It’s not an experience I would call enjoyable by any enjoyable stretch of the imagination but I will share a few tips that I have employed and you can to make your next phase of cutting some pudge a lot easier and hopefully as well a lot more productive and in turn shorter.

It’s Just Food…

Mind set / a back bone. The number one thing I hear, and I just HATE hearing from people when I am cutting fat is “Gawd How Do you Do that? How do you stay so committed?” How do you not have the cake at a birthday party? How do you go from cramming anything and EVERYTHING you want plus some in your pie hole one week getting ready for a meet to not even a taste the next. Oh!!!! I cant do that the cravings are just too bad, I can’t handle them I have to have a little of this or little of that. To calm my nerves and what not.

COME ON!!!!!!! How weak are you. It’s friggin food, it not like you’re a crack addict. Show some spine, some will power. Food is an inanimate object and people have some how given it more power then it deserves. Social power, and in some cases physical power. Are you really going to sit there and tell me a HO HO has more spine then you? You had a craving and Just couldn’t resist the UNRULY all-powerful snack cake or cookie.

First thing you got to do is simply want what your goal is commit to it and just accept it. You don’t have to label the food BAD, or EVIL. “Bad Bad cookie” Just label it what it is food, and if its not on your menu right now for the goals at hand you just say?? Um NO and you don’t have it. It’s that easy, try it next time. Instead of dwelling on a simple mass of calories and letting it waste minutes of your day and cause undue stress from so called craving honestly ask yourself if you’re going to let a snack cake have more power over your actions then you.

Protein your Protein and Stay Hydrated!

This is nothing ground breaking and don’t claim it to be. I won’t waste your time going into all the specifics of why one should eat protein and stay hydrated if one needs to know that there are literally thousands of documents and articles written on the importance of each by myself and those much smarter then I in the field of nutrition. Look a few up, or ask some direct questions on the forum or the next Iron Radio Broadcast ( What I will do is give a suggestion I have used that couples the two habits of getting your protein in and staying hydrated.

A 1 Gallon diluted protein shake. Plain and simple every single day when I am cutting calories below my maintenance I make a HUGE 1 gallon diluted protein shake and sip on that all day long. I know the importance of getting a steady small stream of protein to keep amino rich blood and halting undue muscle catabolism, That and hydration need is increased even more so due to the lower general carb intake it is of vital importance to keeping as much lean mass as I can. Let alone the facts that both habits keep you satiated and performance up, waste products flowing out etc..

Just take a gallon container. I use an empty milk jug and add 3-5 scoops of your favorite protein dependent on your protein needs. The drink away al day to keep both these staples of dietary habits in check. As an option I add a bit of pure sucralose and stevia for sweetness and salt to keep one of my crucial electrolytes in balance during the periods of HIGH hydration and loss of sweat from adding activity.

Start Green

Going Green is the latest craze as I’m sure you’ve heard and it should be when dieting as well. But Im talking about a different green. Im not talking about recycling your used tampons so they can be used to make a new space aged coating for the space shuttle so it moves through the sky more efficient and doesn’t burn so much precious fossil fuels I’m talking Veggies.

Once again people give food, fuel too much power and they label certain foods as breakfast foods and certain ones NOT, and in general somehow veggies are in the not category. I say a food like veggies that we know is a great food for when trying to shed fat due to its high fiber and micro nutrients content then it should not only be a breakfast choice but a breakfast staple. We should start out one step ahead and have a nice big serving at the first meal of the day. Yeah, it aint hash browns, biscuits and gravy, or captain crunch but it is serving a HUGE purpose in or current goals eat it.

How I don’t care eat it as a side item like at dinner, or get creative and put it in a shake, an omelet or other. It really doesn’t matter just start he day with a BIG serving of the green stuff and see how it helps you shed the lbs.

Get Moving

Cardio, NEPA, whet ever get your butt moving do more then you were yesterday. Plain and simple start doing more simple activity then you were prior to trying to lose fat and it will add up. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to be the next greatest cardio craze that promises to rip the fat off you, just do something. Preferably something you enjoy, find fun. If you can lose time, laugh and enjoy what your doing al the better and al the more effective it will be.

I prefer to mix it up, Play a sport, go for a simple walk, a hike, a bike ride, a swim, row, throw things, drag things. Take part in anything that simply has your doing something. It all counts, doesn’t have to be complicated and again it doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t SUCK. If I have something planned and dread doing it, or really hate the thought of it, FINE, I’ll do something else. Its OK, just do something, whatever you find the least Crappy.

Now if your just being a wuss and making excuses, then sure sometimes you have to just suck it up and do it and get it over with, It wont take long and wont be the end of the world. Likely once your done it wont seem like that much and you’ll be glad you did, but Just do a little more then last week, it doesn’t have to be a ton, it all adds up.

Kiss a Fish…

Or smell like you did. Taking fish oils will be the last little tip I recommend. Again, by now this shouldn’t even be something I have to suggest, and I definitely wont go into great detail as that’s be done again and again. When cutting fat even more so then in your daily routine I suggest you really load up on the fish oils, for a good size male I say 10-15 grams a day. I personally take 12-15 that’s aside from any fish I eat.

The benefits are vast from general health on the cellular level, to really aiding aches pains and lubricating joints while your on a hypo caloric diet. They also have the effect of aiding in fat burning, cognitive function possibly helping when you would be a bit cloudy from the lowered energy intake and raised expenditure. Thinning the blood a bit getting nutrients flowing in and out of bodily tissues more readily and aiding in cholesterol.

Get a BIG tub and start them TODAY make it a habit and if you have a fat loss phase planned you might think about starting to load up a bit higher a few weeks prior to get a bit ahead of the game.

Training Choices

I am going to keep this very brief and simple. Im my experience you have 1000’s of choices in how to train when you want to shed body fat. Literally any program can be used for both training to lose fat or pack on mass the biggest difference is the diet and your NEPA / Cardio. That said in my opinion you have two choices that are best and will lead to the greatest fat loss to lean mass preservation.

#1 GO heavy, brief and frequent. Get in pick one maybe two BIG compound moves do it hard and work up to the 90% zone or higher and get OUT

#2 Go Heavy, Go Long, But very infrequent

Get in the gym Hit it HARD again big compounds lifts work up to heavy sets in the 85%+ range. Hit he whole body and hit it hard. Then rest. Two simple bare bones but hard sessions a week is Plenty with this route.

These two are by far the best. Why? #1 you need to go heavy. Nothing is going to convince your body that it is a MUST to keep the precious lean mass that you have built like lifting near maximal loads. You don’t have the energy intake for lots of long hard sets and tons of reps, let alone the fuel to recover form such sessions. Blitz the body give it a reason to hold onto mass but do minimal muscle tissue damage and get out. Use the diet and moderate cardio and NEPA to target the fat loss.


These tips are easily applied real world basic bones tools anyone can use when they are looking to shed some body fat and they want to sway the success a bit more in their direction. Most people don’t need to worry getting caught up in the minutia that they do over complicating things and breaking things down to exact calories and exact macros. If they employ simple good nutritional habits and add on a few tips and tools like these they can make great success and likely make it further and faster toward their goal then if they had went a more invasive route.

Get Strong! Stay strong!


By Craig Ballantyne (author of Turbulence Training for Abs)

One of my first online training clients, Charlene, had spent years doing long slow cardio workouts and struggling through hundreds of crunches each workout. She even went to “ab classes” on non-workout days (when she could have been at home resting or out with her man) because those ab classes didn’t do her any good.

Like Charlene, most of my clients have been so focused on the latest high-repetition ab workouts featured in the latest fitness magazine, but all they did was waste their time and give them a pain in the neck.

It wasn’t until Charlene dropped 3 exercises from her program and switched to fat burning interval training that she finally had a flat belly for swimsuit season.

Are you sick and tired of doing the same old abdominal exercises but getting no results? Have you spent so much time on your back doing crunches that when you close your eyes at night you picture the ceiling of your gym? Then you’ll love…

The 3 Exercises to Avoid…

If you’ve had enough with lying on dirty floors and crunching away until you get a stiff neck, but you still don’t have a firm belly, then it’s time to give up crunches, sit-ups, and bicycles for good.

Those 3 should really be called “lame”, “harmful”, and “useless”. You literally never need to do those three abdominal exercises ever again, and you can still lose belly fat, flatten your stomach, and define your six pack abs.

If you rely on boring, back-breaking abdominal crunches and sit-ups to burn belly fat, you’ll never lose the ugly belly fat covering your abs. To get more fat burning results in less workout time, use fat burning interval training and total-body abdominal exercises instead.

Research shows that most abdominal crunches, situps, and machines are extremely dangerous for your low back! But you can do simple, safe, and effective abdominal bodyweight exercises and interval training at home to flatten your stomach. Are you ready for 21st century ab exercises and abdominal workouts?

You now need to use ab exercises where the focus isn’t on crunching or spinal flexion, but instead use abdominal exercises that offer stabilization and resistance to rotation (rather than doing a lot of rotation like in old school bicycle crunches).

These new types of exercises include planks, side planks, exercise ball jackknives, exercise ball pikes, and many, many more. All of these can be done at home, but without the indignity of lying on your back in the dirt!

Just because these abdominal exercises aren’t your traditional crunches, doesn’t mean that you won’t get that great ab burning feeling following your workout. These core exercises will still help you build 6 pack abs, but in a much safer way that will reduce the incidence of low back pain.

The Evolution of Ab Exercises

The first ab exercise in the evolution of abdominal exercise training is a simple plank. This exercise needs to be mastered by beginners and those at risk of low back pain. The goal here is to work up to a 90 second to 2 minute hold in the plank position.

The next core exercise is the side plank or side bridge. A little more difficult than the regular plank, the trick here is to keep your body in a straight line and keep those hips raised up. Brace your abs at all times.

Want to Work Your Abs 30% Harder Than Normal?

Once you’ve mastered those ab exercises, try the plank with your elbows on the stability ball. According to Men’s Health magazine, this exercise works your abs 30% hard than a regular plank. To increase the difficulty of this ab exercise, try moving the ball further away from your body.

The fourth ab exercise to work your entire core is the stability ball jackknife. Here, you will place your feet on the stability ball and your hands on the floor or elbows on a bench. Then you will bring your knees to your chest, while maintaining the plank position, and then return to the starting position.

Similar to the ab wheel, the next exercise in the evolution of ab training is the stability ball rollout. Place the ball in front of you, with your hands on the ball, roll the ball out, stretching and maintaining your back in a straight line, and contract to return to the starting position.

The last ab exercise is a plank rotation. When you take a regular plank and combine it with a side plank, the subsequent resisting rotation works to provide a total body workout. So to perform this exercise you will start in the side plank position, and without moving your hips rotate to a regular plank, and then over to the opposite side plank position. Continue to do this, while keeping your back straight and hips raised.

Crunches are old news. You just won’t get the same total body benefits of this new type of training. So try out these 6 ab exercises that will provide not only an exceptional core work, but a total body workout as well.

Drop those 3 exercises for more results and less workout time.

When Charlene finally gave up crunches, sit-ups, and bicycle crunches, she was astounded by the change in her abs from interval training and the new abdominal workout program she was using. Plus, she saved 90 minutes per week by giving up her endless crunches and sit-up program along with the long, slow cardio workouts. That gave her 90 extra minutes per week to enjoy her flat belly with her man.

Get Strong! Stay Strong!




In your lifetime, it’s likely that you have taken some type of medicine – whether over-the-counter or prescription. Chances are you were well-aware of the medicine you were taking, the possible side-effects and the reason you were taking it. But what if you were exposed to certain medications without your knowledge – or permission? Sounds kind of scary, doesn’t it? Well, that very thing might be occurring right now.

A recent investigation and subsequent report by the Associated Press reveals that drinking water supplies in 24 major metropolitan areas were found to include a vast array of prescription drugs, including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones, as well as OTC medicines such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
Is your water affected? How did this happen? Are you in danger? You’re sure to have many questions regarding this recent discovery. Take a look below for some clarification and information about this possible health scare.

Should you fear for your health?
While your immediate health and well-being is likely not at risk, the threat of long-term consequences is not known at this time. The concentration of drug levels found is quite low (reportedly measured in parts per billion or trillion) and the water utilities insist the water is safe. But representatives from both the government and private organizations claim to be unsure whether the levels are low enough to discount harmful health effects.
The Associated Press reports that recent laboratory research found that small amounts of medication have affected human embryonic kidney cells, human blood cells and human breast cancer cells – specifically, the kidney cells grew too slowly, the blood cells showed activity associated with inflammation and the cancer cells proliferated too quickly.

Another concern is that certain drugs, or a combination of drugs, may be harmful over time because water is often consumed in sizable amounts every day. And while your body may be able to deal with a larger, one-time dose, it may suffer more from smaller amounts ingested over a longer period of time.

How did the water become tainted?

According to the Associated Press’s report, there are a number of ways the drugs could have entered the drinking water supply:

• Unused and unneeded medications flushed down the toilet
• Undigested or unabsorbed medications passed through urine or feces
• Pharmaceuticals resistant to wastewater treatments and cleansing

The issue becomes even more relevant as the number of prescription medications have risen considerably over the past five years.

Some treatment methods, such as adding chlorine, can make certain pharmaceuticals even more toxic than they were to begin with.

Are certain individuals, like babies and the elderly, more susceptible to possible effects?
As with any other environmental or medical threat, fetuses, babies and toddlers are more sensitive because their bodies are still developing. Pregnant women, the elderly and those who are ill may also be more susceptible.

What can you do to make sure your water is safe?

While boiling water usually eliminates harmful substances, it won’t work for this problem. Also, if you think you’re preventing exposure by drinking bottled water – you’re wrong. Twenty five percent of bottled water actually comes from the tap.

Some filtration systems, such as those which perform reverse osmosis, may reduce the levels of pharmaceuticals but not completely eliminate them.

You can be proactive in raising awareness by contacting your local public utilities and asking them what pollutants they test for in drinking water. And of course, you can help prevent further contamination by disposing of unused medications properly – by NOT flushing them down the toilet! Instead, put medications in a sealed container and in the trash – but make sure children or pets can’t get to that container.

So – health scare or health hoax?

Realistically it’s too early to determine what kind of effects the contaminated water can have on human health, as there are so many unknowns at this point. However, you can be sure that the issue is an area of great concern and will be investigated further.

Get Strong! Stay Strong!


 By Barbara Fuller PT, FAFS

The late-seventyish woman looked at me with a bit of skepticism mixed with a little fear. After I introduced myself to her she said, “Before we start, I want you to know that I would like for you to address my low back pain, but I don’t want you to mess with my hip.” When I urged her, she further explained that she’d had problems with her right hip for a long time, with x-rays revealing severe arthritis and necrosis of the femoral head. She had been to an orthopedist who told her to come back for a total hip replacement when she could not stand the pain anymore. She was not ready for that. Her back pain was relatively new, but it was making her even more miserable, as well as making her unable to do the yard work she loved doing or taking a walk. Most telling was the account of her last experience in physical therapy when her hip was forced passively beyond what she could tolerate, thus resulting in increased pain. Needless-to-say, she never went back. Before I even touched this patient, or put her through any functional movement assessments, I felt a strong need to educate her about the hip – especially its relationship to the lumbar spine. I told her that the hip is the low back’s best friend. I explained how a normally functioning hip, one that moves well and is strong in all three planes of motion, allows the low back to function normally by protecting it from excessive motion and wear and tear. I demonstrated how a hip, with a decent amount of extension, propels the body forward, but without that extension, the task falls to the low back causing all sorts of problems. I told her that her hip had let her low back down and was probably the cause of her low back pain. All that being said, I then told her that I really felt that I needed to at least take a look at the hip or I would be doing her a disservice. I also promised her that I would not do anything she did not agree to me doing and that I would be very gentle. She agreed. In addition to the hip being quite friendly, the hip is BIGGEST of the BIG rocks in our body! Big rocks are the areas of the human body that provide a foundation for normal mobility and stability (mostability). But if they are not functioning well, then they become the culprits of pain and dysfunction in joints above and below. For the hip, that includes its closest neighbors – the lumbar spine and the knee – but it can also include more distant neighbors like the opposite shoulder or elbow. Also, the hip is our power source. We can understand this when we consider the powerful muscles of the back and front butts, and their core connections, including the pelvic floor (with connection through the hip adductors and rotators) and the thoracic diaphragm (with connection through the abdominals to the thoracic spine and rib cage). It is through hip extension that we can most effectively load our abdominals. As promised, I was gentle with my patient and started her functional assessment with neutral standing (XXX) while hanging on to a counter top with both hands. She was limited bilaterally in lateral pelvic glides and rotations. Most significant, though, was her lack of right hip extension in a left stride stance (LXX). She also demonstrated to me a successful short squat – something that applied to her goal of continuing with yard work. Her home-workable exercise program (remember the test becomes the exercise and the exercise becomes the test) became XXX with right and left lateral glides and rotations of the pelvis for a warm-up, which was then followed by LXX anterior and posterior glides. After these, I asked her to do some of her short squats (start with success). On her next visit she beamed and said, “I’ve had very little pain since my first visit!” She progressed beautifully through her physical therapy. Although she did not get full mostability back in her right hip, she gained just enough that on the day when she was able to complete a common lunge matrix (anterior lunge, same side lateral lunge, and same side rotational lunge) – no hands – she looked at me and said, “I feel so empowered!” Wow! I did not heal this patient, but provided an environment in which her body could improve. By giving her complete control, her fears were addressed. By educating her about the truth of the hip, her skepticism was addressed. And by giving her a home-workable program, she was empowered … and so was her hip! This is the beauty of Applied Functional Science.

Get Strong! Stay Strong! (and don’t forget to be functional!)