Don't Skip Your Warm-Up Routine

How do you feel about warming up prior to exercise? Most people see it as a waste of time. You will see people stretch there legs out before a run or stretch out there chest before they do a chest press. But rarely do you see people go through a full warm up routine before they start there weight training routine for the day.

How important is warming up before a workout?

Warming up and stretching correctly are fundamental, yet often overlooked parts of any training program. While these components to training are very basic, many people tend to skip over a proper warm-up, stretch and cool down program and wonder why they do not feel ready to work out. I call these aspects of training the forgotten elements of training. They are techniques that you never see much of in gyms.

Warming up has many benefits. The main benefit to warming up is injury prevention because the blood will be pumping to an area, lowering the chance of a muscle pull or joint injury. Warming up also has positive effects because afterward strength and focus should be peaked. Warming up has many physical and mental benefits.

A younger lifter rarely thinks about joint health when getting started with lifting. A large percentage of lifters are forced to stop performing certain exercises, work around pain, or quit training altogether because they never paid attention to joint health from the beginning. If they had stopped and focused on taking care of there body before they began a workout they could have trained pain free for life and gotten much more results.

Joints require mobility, stability, and motor control. In other words, joints need flexible muscles and soft tissue to surround them. Joints stay healthier when you have a strong and stabilizing musculature to prevent wasted movement. Joints require coordination to move properly. Joints also need balanced levels of strength in the surrounding musculature in order to track properly.

Joint health is highly correlated with good habits in terms of warming up and good form while lifting. Performing some sort of a dynamic warm-up before you start lifting can pay of big time. Things such as foam rolling, mobility drills, and activation drills can get your joints and muscles ready to perform to there highest capability. Once you are done with that you should conduct a more specific warm-up consisting of several progressively heavier sets prior to your first compound lift of the day. Use a full range of motion when you lift weights, and make sure you use sound form. These things are vital for you to have healthier joints 5, 10 and 15 plus years from now.

An injury is the last thing any person that has a weight training routine wants. You can miss a meal here and there if you absolutely must and still reach your goals over time. You can skip the last 5 minutes of your cardio session if you need to be somewhere and your body won't hate you. But if you skip your warm-up and end up with a muscle pull, you're not gaining optimally for the next month or even longer in some cases.

Warming up is injury preventative in many ways. It increases flexibility and blood flow which limits the chance of a muscle pull and joint pain. A proper warm-up also gets the you in a groove for a good lifting session.

Don't skip out on this very basic principal. Your body will thank you later.

Stop Using Exercise As Punishment

I strongly dislike when exercise is used as a form of punishment.

You should exercise because you love your body, not because you hate it.

I coach people on improving their mentality every day. Mental toughness is something that you will have to work on daily. Exercise mentality means more to me than the type of exercise you are partaking in.

It hurts me to the core when I hear things like, "I need to perform extra cardio because I over indulged on the weekend." "Can I have a hard workout today because I have to eat out tonight?"

It hurts me because I care why you are working out more than the type of workout you are doing. If your workouts are fueled with that sort of mentality then you have to change things up. That mindset is a negative form of motivation and is a road to disorder.

You don't need to punish yourself for giving into a craving. You might have ate too much yesterday. But you don't need to call yourself fat and get on the stair master for an hour because of it. The journey is filled with ups and downs. Ditch the mindset that you must be perfect. It leads to bad habits. It will lead you down a road of always feeling guilty about enjoying your favorite treats, and terrible restriction. Then you will force yourself to perform a super challenging workout to “make up” for the damage. Not only is that mentally draining, but you will start to dislike strength training because it became punishment. This “punishment” mentality also leads to some severe binge eating habits.

You need to relax. Seriously. Keep things super simple, and stop putting so many restrictions on yourself. Focus on consistency instead of trying to be perfect.

The only goal you should have with your workouts is to become a stronger, more awesome version of yourself. Because you were born awesome.

Your workouts allow you to improve your quality of life. To set some personal records, get stronger and build your self-confidence. Your workouts help you discover how much your body is capable of.

So the next time you enjoy a favorite treat or not-so-healthy meal, enjoy it, forget about it, and move on.

Big Backside = Long Life

Can we all agree that we get weaker as we get older? I'm pretty sure common sense would say your muscles don't hang around if you aren't using them.

In the science world strength declines at a very fast rate after the age of 40. So for example, a man 55 years young, even if he was an Olympic gold medal winner in weightlifting at 24, will typically lose 30-33% of the strength levels he had three decades before.

Your backside. Your rump. Your bum. Your derriere. Your backside.

When you neglect to save the largest muscle of the body we create some major issues.

The biggest reason why the glutes shut down is due to inactivity. A muscle will quit working properly if you fail to consistently activate it. It will also stop working suitably if you fail to regularly activate it to its capacity.

If your glutes are not strong, your entire lower body alignment may fall out of balance. Have you ever seen anyone walking bent over? Or how about anyone that sits in a chair and their lower back is screaming in pain?  Weak glutes can lead to issues such as ACL injuries, Achilles tendinitis, shin splints, runner’s knee and IT band pain.

If the glutes are not strong enough to do their job then something has to do it for them. Other muscles will take over that work load. Which is not a good thing. The hamstrings, low back, quadriceps and calves may become over active and that can increase your risk of injury.

Strong glutes support the back. When your glutes aren’t activating as they should, your psoas muscle, a hip flexor muscle that runs from the spine to the legs, takes over. An overstressed psoas causes back pain and compression in the lower lumbar vertebrae of the spine.

Not all back pain is a result of weak glutes, but it can be a contributing factor.

I love the hip thrust exercise. It can be scaled to any fitness level and can activate glutes through a full range of motion.

One thing I like about them is that there’s a fast learning curve so clients tend to pick them up fast. They can be a little awkward at first but I’ve found some ways to improve the experience that I hope you’ll find helpful.

Pause each rep for a second at the top to help ensure that you're coming all the way up and achieving full extension. Pausing will also ensure that you’re using glutes to do the work instead of the lower back.

Position your feet in such a way that when you're at the top of the movement your shins are perpendicular to the floor.

Sometimes you will push through your toes which don't activate glutes to their full capacity. Instead your quads take too much of the load. To ensure that you are targeting glutes you should try to lift your toes off the ground. Or try to pick your toes up within your shoes.

Here's a video of a perfectly performed hip thrust.

Why I Love Dumbbell Exercises

Dumbbell exercises have been a huge part of my training regimen since I started lifting weights at age 12. My dad had a set in the garage that I would use. The old school ones where you had to screw the weights on. It definitely sharpened my math skills.

Dumbbells are great tools to have in your strength training arsenal.

They allow for a lot of variety within your workouts. They have a lot of real world practicality and they have some significant advantages compared to barbells.

Of course they aren't included in most gym discussions because they aren't macho man exercises and leaves very little room to ego lift. But they have the best carryover in real life in my opinion. You will never barbell bench press something in real life unless you are stuck under an object and have to press it off of you. Pretty sure those chances are fairly slim. However, you will be faced with obstacles in life where you have to handle different weights of things and have to get in and out of various shapes. Having dumbbells in your training regimen will help improve your fitness to enhance your quality of life. 

I’m not claiming that dumbbells are the best workout tool and that they’re superior to any other piece of equipment. Barbells, kettlebells, machines, or anything else can definitely play a role in your strength development but this article will just dive into the positive aspects of using dumbbells.

Dumbbell exercises can be a little easier on the joints when you are starting out in your lifting journey. You may have some old shoulder injuries, elbow pain or back pain. Dumbbell exercises can be a little safer until you gain full mobility within all your joints, tendons and ligaments. An example of this is to take a look at flat bench dumbbell press and compare it to it's counterpart flat bench barbell press. The dumbbell version tends to be a bit more elbow and shoulder friendly because you can have more natural movement since your hands aren’t fixed in place. You have the freedom to turn or rotate them as you press. Those little tweaks can make for a very safe exercise and not hold you back from making very good strength gains.

The same thing applies to a dumbbell standing press compared to a barbell overhead press. Having your palms face your face instead of facing forward could be the difference into you forming that shape pain free. This is why I recommend people who have had previous shoulder or elbow issues to use dumbbells in their training.

This is why many of my favorite upper body and lower body exercises use dumbbells.

So if you’ve noticed some problems with certain upper body barbell exercises, try swapping them out for the dumbbell version and see how things feel.

I'm a huge advocate for training the body unilaterally as well. We all have a dominant side. Sometimes using a barbell can only exaggerate that. Using dumbbells can improve your weaker side and help you create a more stable, functional physique.

The last reason I love dumbbells is because they are great for home gyms. You don't need any fancy equipment early on in your journey. A pair of dumbbells can take you such a long way. A pair of power block dumbbells can save you a ton of space if that is a resource that is limited in your household. These dumbbells increase in 2.5 pound increments from 10 to 50 pounds. That is perfect for a home gym.

Dumbbells can be a great tool if you’re new to the wonderful world of strength training and want to ease into lifting. Begin by performing basic compound exercises with dumbbells and strive to get stronger.

No workout tool is perfect for everything but dumbbells are a great place to start in your lifting journey.

Resistance Training For Children

Should you let your kid lift weights? I guarantee you have heard of all the potential 'dangers' related to this right?  

However, there has never been any scientific evidence that youth weight training is harmful to the normal growth and development process. Your child can in fact perform barbell squats without fear of stunted growth!

Weight training is not even listed in the top 10 most prevalent injuries for children. According to some of the most updated statistics from Stanford Children's Health the highest rates of injury occur in sports that involve contact and collisions. Youth football, basketball, baseball and softball, and soccer rank as some of the highest injury prone sports for youth sports. More than 775,000 children, ages 14 and younger, are treated in hospital emergency rooms for sports-related injuries each year. Most of the injuries occurred as a result of falls, being struck by an object, collisions, and overexertion. Children ages 5 to 14 account for nearly 40 percent of all sports-related injuries treated in hospitals. More than 3.5 million kids under age 14 receive medical treatment for sports injuries each year. Guess what? Resistance training isn’t in the list at all. This is often attributed to good coaching and qualified supervision.

Resistance training for kids is extremely beneficial and safe. I believe that the sooner your child has a barbell in their hand the better. Especially with the issues of self-confidence climbing and child obesity rates rising. Why not give them something that teaches discipline, and boost a positive self-image? 

My father put weights in my hand at a young age. Around the age of 8 I started to train with him in the garage. We had a bench press that was duck taped so it wouldn’t fall apart and a squat rack. It was one of the best gifts he ever gave me. I can't thank him enough for introducing me to resistance training because it taught me so many valuable lessons.

Here are the reasons why I believe your child should be in a resistance training program. 

Shape a Positive Self-Image

The most significant basic developmental task for children is developing self-worth. If they don't master self-worth, they become self-absorbed instead of self-aware. Confidence makes social life a lot smoother. It also makes it a lot safer. Studies show that self-confidence is one of the single best shields against bullying. A child’s belief in his or her ability to succeed in a particular situation is important. This is known as self-efficacy. If it isn’t built up then they may have less confidence in their ability to stand up for themselves.

Yes, I understand, your child might be the confident kid. They may even be the superstar. But kids who aren't socially awkward suffer silently from a distorted body image that's probably a lot worse. The social pressure for them to be the best or the prettiest could leave him or her constantly hungry for some internal fulfillment they can't define. 

Weightlifting, however, can give adolescents a say in their physical destiny and appearance. With a resistance training program they play an integral role in developing self-worth. The ownership, investment, and discipline it takes to accomplish that change in physical appearance can often help build the other parts of the self-worth equation as well.

Create an Environment for a Healthier Kid and Strong Family Bonds

Lifting makes kids health and food conscious. Food takes on a whole new dimension when you lift. It becomes fuel, and sustenance. It becomes purposeful, and that purpose is building and maintaining muscle, daily energy, and recovery. They will also learn balance. Kids should know how to enjoy some of their favorite sugar filled foods but not at the expense of pushing aside nutritiously dense foods. 

It's easy to bond with kids during infancy. But most parents aren't as good in maintaining these bonds when kids get older and presumably more complex. My father and I bonded during our weight training sessions. It was something I looked forward to. Weightlifting gives you something to share and a way to acknowledge your kid's effort and achievements, along with their weaknesses. They will learn life isn’t about wins, losses, or participation awards. They will learn that you get out what you put in.

If you are a parent of a young child and considering a weight-training program, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Is your child mature enough to accept coaching instructions?
2. Does the training program emphasize lifting technique and not the amount of weight lifted
3. Is there a qualified coach to supervise my child?
4. Does the coach understand how to monitor the training program and vary the intensity of lifting to avoid over-training and injuries?

If you can answer yes to all of these questions, a weight-training program can be implemented with your child regardless of age.

Weight training is safe for children of all ages to perform as long as they are adequately supervised and coached. Consult the child’s primary physician before starting any new physical training program. (I have to say that but science is science)

Why Should You Go Buy New Shoes

With the invention of smarter, fancier, and innovative pedometers walking more steps everyday has taken off. It is not uncommon for someone to look on their wrist to see how many steps they've taken throughout the day. Walking is one of the safest and easiest ways to add movement and increase your non-exercise activity throughout the day. 

If you are going to walk 10,000 steps in a day you should ensure that you are walking well and have the correct shoes on your feet. 

Walking with lower back pain, bunions and calluses on your feet is not a symptom of hard work. Those are symptoms of poor walking technique, and tissue restrictions. 

One of the amazing things about the body is that it can adapt and you have the power to bring it back to great form. 

Today I want to address an overlooked topic which is the type of shoes you invest in. The sneakers you select can make a huge difference in how you perform your fitness and leisure activity. Besides sitting incorrectly, your biggest enemy to good walking is the wrong shoes. Your feet are a marvelous feat of engineering. But they aren't designed for all the high heels, artificial support and never ending inches of foam cushioning. 

Well, what shoes are bad?

Enemy #1
High Heels
High heels limit the range of motion at the ankle. Take a moment and think about standing on your toes all day. That causes your heel cords and calves to be in a shortened position (flexed). When you start to miss out on ankle range of motion your body will compensate by turning your feet out. Walking in high heels also pushes your center of mass forward which puts unwanted stress on your spine. My tip would be to reserve them for special occasions only if you can. 

Enemy #2
Dress Shoes
Yes they are shiny and look amazing with a nice pair of slacks. You look distinguished and dapper. Like high heels, this type of shoe has firm heel caps and stiff leather which kills ankle mobility. Stiff shoes ruin your sense of your foot position and movement. They destroy your walking mechanics by making you feel comfortable with striking the ground with only the heel of your foot. 

Enemy #3
Cushioned Athletic Shoes
These shoes are popular. At some point the shoe world got a hold of us and led us to believe that we should feel like we are walking on air. That soft cushion gives you a false sense of reality because they can absorb the shock generated by poor mechanics. But cushy shoes only exaggerate all the negative adaptations that come along with walking poorly. I'll put it like this. What if you walked around with padded gloves on your hands all day? It would effect how you picked things up off the ground and it might even lead to some carelessness because you had this tool that was protecting you. 

Enemy #4
Flip Flops
When you wear flip flops you have to clench your big toes to keep the shoes on your feet. How can that not change the way you walk? I love that flip flops are flat but you are not reaping the benefits by clenching your feet in order to take a step. Common injuries are achilles problems, plantar fasciitis, and overly stiff ankles

Shoes should provide grip and protection from sharp objects. They shouldn't change the way our biomechanics operate.  

When I rehab poor walking mechanics the first thing I recommend is being barefoot as often as possible. It improves your balance, posture and gives you better self awareness. Don't be the creepy person in the grocery store with no shoes on. But you can def start by not wearing shoes around the house. 

I get that shoes are about style. But there are companies out there that understand people are getting a grasp on this health kick. More zero drop shoes are coming to market now. Cross Fit Nano, New Balance Minimus, Merrell Trail Glove and the Nike MetCon are some of my favorites. 

I'm sure you have a job that might permit you to wear a dress shoe. But is it possible to change out of them at your work station? Wearing high heels, dress shoes, or flip flops a few hours a week won't hurt you. But if you are wearing them day in and day out then we have some work to do to restore your good foot mechanics. 

Why Supersets Could Be The Work-out Change You Need

Build more muscle in less time.Fatigue a muscle without lifting heavy weight. Keep training fun, challenging and interesting.

Superset! Superset! Superset! Superset!

Strength gains become harder and harder to attain the longer you train. Adding more weight to the bar or moving up in dumbbells/resistance is not always the solution.

I'll attempt to explain a very underestimated training technique that will help you build muscle, lose body fat, and keep you excited to train.

"Superset" A superset is when you work muscle groups in back-to-back fashion, taking as little rest as possible in between sets (typically just enough time to wipe your face and get a drink of water). This style of training could be done a number of different ways which makes it more interesting. Some supersets have you are alternating sets between opposing muscle groups (such as biceps and triceps or chest and back). Some trainers call this a push/pull program. When you train one muscle group, the other is recovering (sometimes even being stretched) as you complete the set. Think about when you do a bench press and follow it with doing a bent over row. With two muscles or muscle groups being worked, workload is raised which raises your intensity, increases caloric expenditure, and pumps more blood to the working areas. That is considered a win on all cylinders.

A compound superset is when you perform two exercises for the same body part. This can be brutal on the nervous system and requires extra recovery time after a workout. The major disadvantage with compound supersets is that your form can get sloppy, increasing your chances of getting injured. They should always be systematically placed in the workout with the right amount of weight, sets, and reps.

Isolation supersets are when you take smaller muscle groups like biceps and triceps and perform an exercise for each of them. When you perform a tricep kickback and follow it with a bicep curl would be a prime example of this. Isolation supersets are helpful in increasing your mind muscle connection and also great for improving single muscle groups. Now don't get the idea that just because you do 1,000 curls you will get big biceps. Doesn't work that way. But when you have enough years of training under your belt, these little changes in your program can help change your physique.

A staggered superset is where you combine a major muscle with a smaller, completely unrelated muscle. This technique allows you to bring up a weak body part by working it to a greater extent each week. For example, when you throw in a set of lying leg lifts or crunches after you completed a set of leg presses. I love utilizing this in programs because you do not need to be advanced for it to raise your intensity of your session, and it can create an environment where you can get more work done in less time.

"Tri-Set" Doing three sets in a row for the same body-part with as little rest as possible in between sets. Three exercises in a row more thoroughly exhaust you. This training technique is effective for those who want to gain more muscle and for those who are looking to lose body fat. The drawback for this style of training is typically the endurance of a given muscle group for a beginner or intermediate person is relatively low. In my experience until a person can exceed a 55 push ups in a minute or leg press there body weight for 15 or more reps then they will not see the benefits of it. This technique is amazing in stressing the muscle to the max.

"Giant-Set" Doing 4-6 exercises for the same body-part with as little rest between sets. Giant sets are used to create overwhelming stimulation to a body-part and totally exhaust the muscles involved. This technique should only be used occasionally as your body needs time to recover from this level of effort. This type of training is great for muscular endurance and calorie burning. It is also taxing to your nervous system, takes a great deal of discipline and will power and not for the faint of heart.

Advantage of Supersets 1) Save time by reducing rest intervals between two exercises. 2) Having a shortened rest period will increase the intensity of a workout by performing more work in less time. 3) Allow you to overload a muscle quickly without the use of heavy weight and long rest periods.

Why You Can't Ever Just Eat One Cookie

You left for work this morning at 6:00 am because traffic is hectic and you have some deadlines to meet before the day gets away. You didn't get back home till 6:00 pm and decided to skip the gym since you were so tired from work. You've had hard day and making a meal is the last thing on your mind.

Grabbing the left over cookies that you bought for the weekend get together you were going to with some friends is the only thing that sounded appetizing for dinner. You told yourself that eating a couple would be the limit. "I just want something sweet, a little taste and then I'll be okay." One turned into three, and before you knew it all of the 12 cookies were gone and you were still hungry for more. Why is that?

For thousands of years humans relied on a remarkable, naturally occurring hormone called leptin to regulate what we ate. Somehow this regulator has become confused and now it seems like people just don't know how to stop eating.

I have to dive into a little bit of the biochemistry of the brain so you can fully understand these signals or 'non' signals you experience.

Growing evidence shows that leptin may influence areas of your brain that control the intensity of your desire to eat. It has also been found that leptin not only changes brain chemistry, but can also "rewire" the very important areas of your brain that control hunger and metabolism. The way your body stores fat is a carefully regulated process that is controlled, primarily, by leptin. If you gain excess weight, the additional fat produces extra leptin that should alert your brain that your body should stop creating and storing more fat and start burning the accumulated excess.

To do this, signals are sent to your brain to stop being hungry and to stop eating. It is very important that your brain is able to accurately "hear" the messages leptin sends it, as otherwise your brain thinks you're depleted and will continue to feel hungry, even starving. If your brain does not respond appropriately to leptin, you will likely continue to eat and store more fat.

So if you have this incredible innate system that regulates hunger, why are we struggling to put down the cookies? Because you have become "leptin resistant." Leptin resistance occurs when your body is unable to properly hear leptin's signals. How does this happen? By overexposure to high levels of the hormone, caused by eating too much sugar.

You are familiar with the term 'insulin'. When you eat cookies your bodies blood sugar raises and causes repeated surges of insulin to balance it out. These high repeated surges over time can cause your cells to become "insulin-resistant," which can lead to type II diabetes if not careful. It is much the same as being in a room with a strong odor for a period of time. Eventually, you stop being able to smell it, because the signal no longer gets through.

The same process also occurs with leptin. It has been shown that as sugar gets metabolized and stored as triglycerides in fat cells, the fat cells release surges of leptin and those surges result in leptin-resistance, just as it results in insulin-resistance. When you become leptin-resistant, your body can no longer hear the messages telling it to stop eating and burn fat -- so it remains hungry and stores more fat.

This will not only contribute to weight gain, but also increase your risk of many chronic illnesses, as leptin plays a significant, if not primary, role in heart disease, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases, reproductive disorders, and perhaps the rate of aging itself.

Remember that in order to minimize your sugar intake, you need to avoid most processed foods, as most contain added sugar. Even savory foods like salad dressing, soup, and bread often contain sugar. For optimal health, eat natural whole foods, and don't skip the gym (sometimes just being in that environment can get you back into a good mindset).

I'm not saying cookies are bad, but they are no staple for healthy nutritional practices. Have them only in moderation.

7 Ways to Take Your Work-outs to the Next Level

As a professional in fitness industry I see the influx of people come in the gym with a goal to lose weight, get 'toned', gain muscle, get a six pack, tighten up the backside, lose the love handles, or get back to the high school weight. Often times they have a magazine in hand that has the '30 day plan to a new you' or '10 muscle building exercises to get you ripped' or '21 day glute routine'. The most popular trends catches the eye but the most basic principle is left by the wayside. From my experience two things end up happening when a proper plan isn't in place. They accept that in order to get results it will take years of weight training or working out and they just don't want to weight that long, while others get discouraged from not seeing results and quit altogether.


Progressive Overload: I call this a "Standard" set type in WebFit. It is the most commonly used set type and the base of any successful weight training program. This principal refers to continually increasing the demands on the musculoskeletal system in order to continually make gains in muscle size, strength and endurance. In order to get bigger and stronger you must continually lift more and more and make your muscles work harder than they are used to. If you don't, your muscles will not become any stronger or bigger than they currently are.

Conversely, if the demands on your muscles are not at least maintained and are actually decreased, your muscles will become smaller and weaker. Use it or lose it.

Progressive overload is a very simple concept but it is crucial. This principle lays the foundation of any training program. Progressive overload doesn't just apply to resistance training and increasing muscle growth and strength, it can also be applied to increasing bone and connective tissue strength as well as cardiovascular fitness and the associated physiological changes that take place through a progressive cardiovascular exercise program.

I will walk you through an example of this principle in motion. Let's say you perform 1 set of legs using a Seated Leg Press Machine at 100 pounds for 8 repetitions. As your training progresses that 1 set of Leg Presses for 8 reps at 100 pounds becomes easier and easier. This means that your leg muscles have adapted to the demands you placed on them. There is no longer a need for them to try to get bigger and stronger because the demand is not sufficient enough. You could do that same set of 8 repetitions at 100 pounds for the rest of your life and your strength/muscle size would never improve past a certain point. In order for your strength to improve and your muscles to change than they presently are you need to place more demands on them. You continue doing this strategically until you reach your own genetic potential.

The one thing that lowers my spirits is when I see individuals who want to skip out on the basics. I don't blame them because with social media and everything being blasted our faces; sometimes you just want to jump to the 'best' program out there. Just remember this one thing. If your body is progressing with 2 sets of 10 at 30 pounds on a given exercise, don't add more weight or do more sets or increase the repetitions. Ride your program until the wheels fall off and then change something. The old saying, "IF IT AIN'T BROKE, DON'T FIX IT." is something I try to jam in the minds of people I come in contact with. If you try to apply everything and do it all now, what will you do when you hit a plateau?

I want to share with you 7 ways to apply progressive overload. The beauty of this principle is that these 7 ideas to help you progress can be mixed, matched and put together so artistically that you can very seldom hit a plateau in your program.

1) Increase Resistance Progressively increase the weight you lift as you become stronger and the weight becomes easier. A good indicator of when to increase the resistance is when you are able to perform more than your target repetitions. For example, when your lifting program calls for sets of 10 repetitions but you are able to get 11. This would be an indicator that it is time to move up in your weight.

2) Increase Sets Increase the number of sets you perform for a given exercise. Instead of 2 or 3 sets maybe you'll want to increase to 3 or 4 in order to really fatigue the muscles.

3) Increase Repetitions Increase the number of repetitions you perform for a given exercise. By the end of your last set and you are completing repetitions with ease then next time it might be time to go up in weight.

4) Increase Frequency Increase how often you train a certain muscle or muscle group. This technique is most useful for improving lagging or weak muscles or muscle groups. This technique is often the one that is over used as well. Recovery plays a major role in this. Beginners can utilize this principal because most of the time they are training full body a few times a week but with very low volume. When applying this make sure that muscles have had enough time to recuperate between training sessions before increasing frequency. Every once in a while though it could be useful to train muscles even if they haven't fully recovered in order to shock them and keep them guessing. But be cautious.

5) Increase Exercises Increase the number of exercises you perform for a certain muscle or muscle group with the addition of a new one to your current program. This technique works well if you are trying to add symmetry to a muscle group by increasing the size of individual muscles or parts of muscles within a muscle group.

6) Increase Intensity Increase your perceived exertion or how much effort you put into every set. This is the most important factor for creating progressive overload in my opinion. Way too often people progress by using one of the above factors before they even think about how to increase the effort in which they are currently at. What would happen if you controlled the weight better? How would you feel if you took your time during the set and really focused on squeezing the muscle you are working? Don't forget. Anyone can throw weight around. Few know how to control it. Sometimes learning how to be comfortable in those uncomfortable sets is all you need to progress.

7) Decrease Rest Time Decreasing the rest time between consecutive sets will force your body to adapt metabolically faster and more efficiently over time. Eventually you will be able to lift more in less time.

The last two of those factors are by far my personal favorite. Those two alone can push you to a better you. They aren't fancy and don't even require an extensive amount of knowledge to perform effectively. I hope this helped explain why progressive overload is so amazing in helping you achieve a better you.

The Importance of Warming Up Before A Work-Out


Weight training can be as complicated or as simple as what you like to make it. There are basic principles to follow just like anything in life. The problem is when we look for shortcuts. I get text, emails, and phone calls about how to execute the different set types we have set up in WebFit. Some people think I created the terms. Some think they are made up adjectives that are indicative into how I feel about them (Stretching = "Boring and you don't want me doing anything" - Standard Sets = "I Like You" - Supersets = "You Need To Work A Little Harder" - Circuits = "I'm Mad At You or Punishment".  Haha! While all those gestures are funny. They are false. I only utilize science to help you get closer to your goal in a safe, yet effective fashion.

When the principles of weight training are used correctly, your results can be astounding. The science of weight training is my passion and sharing that is my goal. My goal is to educate you in a crash course on set types; what each of them mean, and the benefit of them when performed correctly.

"Static Stretching" Stretching is the deliberate lengthening of muscles in order to increase muscle flexibility and joint range of motion. Stretching activities are an important part of any exercise or rehabilitation program. They help warm the body up prior to activity thus decreasing the risk of injury as well as muscle soreness. Flexible muscles can improve your daily performance. I often see individuals who have a hard time doing day to day tasks such as putting shoes, picking up groceries, changing light bulbs, cleaning the house and putting on your clothes. Stretching increases blood flow to your muscles. Blood flowing to your muscles brings nourishment and gets rid of waste byproducts in the muscle tissue. Improved circulation can help shorten your recovery time if you've had any muscle injuries as well. Here are some things to keep in mind when performing stretches: * Bouncing as you stretch can cause small tears (microtears) in the muscle, which leave scar tissue as the muscle heals. The scar tissue tightens the muscle even further, making you even less flexible and more prone to pain. * If you feel pain as you stretch, you've gone too far. Back off to the point where you don't feel any pain, then hold the stretch. * Don't hold your breath while you're stretching. * The benefits of stretching are many and have been proven through various studies over time. A study done in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy showed that, "Static stretching is effective at increasing Range Of Motion. The greatest change in ROM with a static stretch occurs between 15 and 30 seconds." Typically static stretching is done at the beginning of a workout prior to doing a dynamic warm up and after a light warm up of some sort of light cardiovascular activity. This quick 5-10 minutes allows you to calm your mind and start actively thinking about the time you are about to spend at the gym. It also allows you to come down off any stress while priming your body for exercise. This is essential to your success not only in reaching your goals but also for quality of life.


"Dynamic Warm Up" The main purpose behind a dynamic warm-up is to increase the blood flow to the exercise musculature, and to increase the nervous system awareness. You're trying to stimulate that awareness to the exercises that are going to follow. It's the steppingstone before you actually start doing more intense exercises. It should be the first part of our workout; and it's absolutely critical because it warms up your tissue temperature prior to starting your workout and will allow you to perform more efficiently. Because most cardio activities are performed with relatively small ranges of motion and are dominant in one plane (straight ahead, such as walking, running, cycling, stair climbing, elliptical, etc.), it is important to incorporate movements that move the body in more complete ways. This should include full ranges of motion, rotation and side-to-side movements.

These two different set types are often skipped because of a lack of time, not interesting, and some just don't see the benefit. But to be honest, these are the most important of them all. Because without them, you will not be able to get into and out of life positions efficiently (squatting, deadlifting, pressing) or perform exercises correctly. This is the core to any and every exercise program. So please don't skip these two important pieces. They could be the very thing that takes you to the next level.

What is a mind muscle connection?

When I first started training with my mentor Charles Anderson I learned what this old adage meant. Now days it is a lost art because more people are concerned about the superficial aspects of weight training but in the days where huge social media platforms weren't around and the gym wasn't a new workout outfit contest this saying was relevant. No matter your age, your goal, or how long you have been training; you can benefit from this technique.

What is a mind muscle connection? Research shows that when you think about a muscle, greater muscular activity occurs there. For example, one study looked at how much muscles worked in three conditions: (1) thinking exclusively about the muscles that were working, (2) thinking about the weight that was being lifted, and (3) thinking about whatever the participants wanted. Results showed that there was significantly greater muscle activity in the first condition. And more muscle activity during weight training corresponds to the muscles getting stronger.

Let's say you are doing barbell bicep curls. Your brain instinctively wants to concentrate on the weight: "Move this weight up and down." You need to rewire your brain to concentrate on the muscle: "Squeeze and release the biceps." To practice this, imagine flexing in front of a mirror while doing the curls. Using the mind-muscle connection lets you stimulate a muscle effectively with less weight, which spares your joints. It also leads to less cheating - breaking form just to perform an action without engaging your muscles properly. You'll get better results with less risk of injury when you put your mind into it.

Some movements can be completed by more than one muscle, and your body will tend to use the stronger one. For example, maybe you shove your shoulders up toward your ears during a side raise. This means that when you are done with the set your traps and neck are hurting more than the meat of your shoulder (middle deltoid muscle). To target the weaker muscle that is 'supposed' to be the trained muscle, your brain must shut off the dominant muscles and turn on the weaker ones. The mental focus required to do this not only improves your results, but also helps block distractions, relieve stress, and enhance your relationship with exercise.

How do I practice mind muscle connection? I recommend a quick mental systems check for each new strength exercise. Ask yourself: 1) Are the right muscles contracting when I execute the motion? 2) Do I feel mild soreness in the muscles (a sign to take it a bit easier on that area)? 3) Do I feel any pain there (a sign to stop)? 4) Do I feel extraneous contractions anywhere else? 5) Am I completing the full range of motion? By being mindful of everything happening inside your body, you'll get much more from your training than you would by just going through the motions.

To put your mind into your muscle requires organizing your thoughts and concentrating them on the specific task at hand during a workout. Although this sounds like a simple idea, it's not easy to do because there are plenty of distracting thoughts to get in the way. To minimize the distractions, manage your time so that your workout is a priority, which helps your mind be less agitated about other things you think you should be doing. If you start worrying about how you look at the gym or noticing the person next to you, remind yourself that you're there to maintain and improve your health, not to see and be seen by others.

Why You Should Ditch the Scale

January is fast approaching and with it comes New Year's resolutions, which are often based on unrealistic goals, fad diets, and unhealthy habits like stepping on your old dusty scale daily only to place your self worth in a number. Scales are apart of most peoples bathroom landscapes. Something so innocent as stepping on a scale becomes much more threatening if we aren't careful. The scale can become a measure of our self worth. A powerful oracle that can determine if we have a good day or bad day. The judge, jury and executioner of whether we are a good or bad person --- good looking or not --- or whether we hide under our clothes or show off our gains.


The idea that you should weigh yourself daily for weight management benefits is extremely frustrating for me and feeds into a bunch of deep topics that we will dive into on some later blogs. Today we will dive into what the research says about weighing daily and hopefully find a balance with this subject matter. I always believed that health was about the quest for improved energy, sleep, strength, flexibility, quality of life, cardiovascular health and self confidence. When you weigh everyday your health will turn into a number purely connected to the number on that scale.

In a study published by the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 1,902 young adults were assessed over a 10 year period.  The majority (over 2/3) of the sample would be classified as “normal” weight. Participants were asked to rate how strongly they agreed or disagreed with the statement “I weigh myself often.” The researchers also gathered data on weight, body mass index, weight disparity (the difference between self reported ideal weight and current weight), body satisfaction, weight concern, depression, and self-esteem.

Results of this study indicate that for both males and females, there was no association between self-weighing and either weight or BMI. This calls into question the common belief that self-weighing leads to weight loss or maintaining a lower weight; if that was true then the participants who regularly weighed themselves would weigh less than those who did not. What the researchers did find was that, for both males and females, self-weighing was associated with greater concern about their weight. Females who weighed themselves regularly also experienced more dissatisfaction with their bodies, more depressive symptoms, and lower self-esteem.

Based on these results, it seems like stepping on the scale doesn’t make people lose weight but it may make you feel bad about your body (increased weight concern and body image dissatisfaction), feel bad about yourself (lower self-esteem), and feel depressed. Meaning that the scale comes with lots of risk and no clear benefit.

Now let's discuss the opposite end of the coin as well. Never weighing yourself isn't the best option either. Basing your health entirely on how you feel isn't the best method and not the right way to go as well. While that number that looks back at you should not be the ultimate deciding factor of your self worth, it does give an objective view in terms of you reaching your goals (gaining lean muscle, losing body fat, etc). The number doesn't deserve the right to control your feelings about who you are but it may help you navigate whether you should make adjustments to your nutrition or exercise program.

What we should do? The fact is, you don't need a scale to tell us how our body is doing. You could take measurements of your chest, waist, hips, arms and legs so you can track progress objectively. This type of measurement could give insight into if you are losing body fat, changing dress sizes, and gaining lean muscle. You could also monitor how much better your performance is on your exercise program. Whether that be a strength training program, or cardiovascular program. Both can be monitored to see if you are improving. You could also weigh less frequent. Maybe once a week or every other week. Creating a habit to where you get on the scale at the same time once every 1-4 weeks isn't a bad practice. It is all about balance and approaching it with the correct mindset. Balance.

The Benefits of Exercising Even When You're Sick

Being sick absolutely sucks. It destroys plans and sidelines you due to the uncomfortable nature that seems to take over. But are you doing the best for your body by staying home in a personal quarantine? Colds are a leading cause of doctor visits and missed days from work and school. Americans suffer from approximately 1 billion colds per year, or about two to four colds per year for all adults.


It should be obvious that the majority of colds occur in the winter months. This has to due with the lack of sunshine, and hence decreased levels of vitamin D. So if you have a cold there is a strong chance that your vitamin D levels are too low and it might be a good idea to get them checked before you undergo high levels of antibiotics. Some more contributing factors to you having a weakened immune system might be: 1) Over-eating on too much sugar. 2) Not getting enough rest or sleep. 3) Not using adequate strategies to address emotional stressors in your life.

Should you workout if you have a really bad cold and you are coughing, sneezing, and even find it hard for you to breath? That is the question I will attempt to answer for you by showing you what the research says.

Two little-known studies that were published a decade ago in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise showed results so much in favor of exercise for individuals with a common cold that the researchers themselves were surprised. The researchers found no difference in symptoms from those who exercised and those who rested. They also found no difference in recovery. Surprisingly, when the exercisers assessed their symptoms, they said they felt okay, and in some cases, they said they actually felt better. They concluded that not only is it safe to exercise when you have an upper respiratory tract infection, but it could actually make you feel better. Even if it doesn’t speed up your recovery.

One study that was performed back in 2006 showed that women who exercised regularly were found to have half the risk of colds of those who didn't workout. The ability of moderate exercise to ward off colds seemed to grow the longer it was used. The enhanced immunity was strongest in the final quarter of the year long exercise program. This would suggest that it is important to stick with exercise long term to get the full effects.

The patients in the exercising group were asked to exercise about 45 minutes a day at home and the gym for five days a week, but they were only able to reach the 30-minute mark per day, with brisk walking accounting for the bulk of their body work. This clearly shows that something is better than nothing.

Personally, I believe that if you have the energy to tolerate it, getting your body temperature up by sweating from exercise will help you kill some viruses. I strongly suggest that you listen to your body and maybe cut back the amount of time that you typically would exercise. Going too hard could also stress your immune system and prolong your illness if you overdue it. Think of this like many things I try to convey through my messages. Moderation and consistency is important.

Bad Types of Exercise to Avoid

Unfortunately most of us interested in exercise took an American approach to exercise when Dr. Cooper first popularized exercise in the late 1960s. We took the "more is better" approach and started racking up the miles or hours in the gym or aerobics classes and competing in marathons or triathlons. Turns out that this excessive cardio was likely not much better at improving longevity than being sedentary. Most exercise programs today are built based upon a very incomplete picture of the physiology of your body. Getting cardiovascular benefits requires working all your muscle fibers and their associated energy systems. Unfortunately for the long slow cardio folks out there, this cannot be achieved with traditional slow cardio. Unfortunately, anywhere from 90 to 98 percent of people who exercise are NOT doing high intensity exercises. By focusing on slow endurance-type exercises, such as running on a treadmill, you actually forgo many of the most profound benefits of exercise. Your heart has two different metabolic processes: * The Aerobic, which require oxygen for fuel, and * The Anaerobic, which do not require oxygen.

Let's simplify this. Studies show that we have three different types of muscle fibers; slow twitch (type I), and fast twitch (fast twitch IIa & IIb). If you don't actively engage and strengthen all three muscle fiber types and energy systems, then you're not going to work both processes of your heart muscle. Many mistakenly believe that cardio works out your heart muscle, but what you're really working is your slow twitch muscle fibers. You're not effectively engaging the anaerobic process of your heart.


I want to paint the picture of what high intensity is, what the benefits are, and why ANYONE can partake in this type of exercise. High intensity exercises sequentially recruit all the different types of muscle fibers in your body, starting with the smaller motor units made up of slow-twitch fibers which are primarily aerobic (have a lot of endurance and recover quickly) -- to the intermediate fibers -- followed by the fast twitch fibers. If you stopped and gave it some thought, it's actually easy to see that your body was designed for high intensity, short interval exercise. In nature you will never see an animal jogging -- hint hint. Instead of being sedentary for much of the day and then running for an hour on a treadmill, our ancient ancestors combined lots of walking with regular lifting and short bursts of high-intensity activities. It is safe to say that science backs up the notion that they did not have near the amount of cardiovascular diseases and metabolic issues that we face today. So why did we fix what wasn't broken? Steady state aka long slow exercise trains the plasticity out of your physiologic system. This is the ability to handle widely varying levels of exertion within a short span of time. Yes, you can make yourself less adaptable to physical stress in general.

Your fast twitch fibers are largely glycolytic and store a lot of glucose (carbs). When these muscles are recruited, it creates the stimulus needed to grow muscle. We have to remember that muscle is very metabolically expensive. If you become sedentary and send your body the signal that this tissue is not being used, then that tissue is metabolically expensive. The adaptation the body takes is to deconstruct that tissue (Use It Or Lose It). At the same time, it enlarges the glucose storage reservoir in the muscle, which in turn enhances your insulin sensitivity. Normalizing your insulin is one of the primary health benefits of exercise, and this is particularly true in the case of high intensity exercise. Slow long distance cardio recruits the slow twitch fibers only. If you remember, earlier I said those fibers recover quickly. So rather than moving to the next set of motor units, you're just recruiting that one group over and over again. As a result, your intermediate and fast twitch fibers actually begin to atrophy aka SHRINK AND DIE! Aside from losing muscle mass, you'll also experience earlier onset of loss of insulin sensitivity, leaving yourself open to a full scale of health ramifications, such as metabolic syndrome (Diabetes).

High intensity short interval training can be as simple as getting on a recumbent bike and pedaling as hard as you can for 30 seconds, then resting for 30 seconds and repeating that process for 10 minutes. But it also relates to the individual who can perform a set of squats for 6+ repetitions, move on to a set of step ups for 6+ repetitions on each leg and starting over until 2+ rounds are completed. There is no one size fits all. Everyone has to start from somewhere.

Why long distance running isn't that great

I think we can all agree that when it comes to exercise, more is not always better. Granted, this warning does not apply to the vast majority of people reading this, as most people are not exercising nearly enough. But it's still important to understand that not only is it possible to over - exercise, but focusing on the wrong type of exercise to the exclusion of other important areas can actually do you more harm than good. A study performed in 2011 by the European Heart Journal looked at the heart function of 40 elite long term endurance athletes after four endurance races of varying lengths. By measuring cardiac enzymes and taking ultrasounds, the researchers were able to measure the acute effects of extreme exercise on the heart. They found that: ~ Right Ventricular function diminished after races. ~ Blood levels of cardiac enzymes (markers of heart injury) increased. ~ The longer the race, the greater the decrease in RV function. ~ 12% of the athletes had scar tissue in their heart muscle detected on MRI scans one week after the race. The authors of the study concluded that intense exercise causes dysfunction of the Right Ventricular, but not the Left Ventricular. Although short term recovery appears complete, chronic changes may remain in many of the most practiced athletes.

This study is a little scary huh? Right Ventricular damage is not good. Diseases that effect this portion of the heart tends to cause electrical instability that may increase the risk of sudden death. Although exercise reduces your cardiovascular risk by a factor of three, too much vigorous exercise, such as marathon running, actually increases your cardiac risk by seven, according to a study presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2010 in Montreal. This is a powerful lesson to anyone who engages in large amounts of cardio exercise, because as it turns out, excessive cardio may actually be counterproductive.

Exercise remains the most effective and safest means to prevent and treat heart disease. The overwhelming majority still exercise far too little. I believe the US suffers from sever exercise deficiency. This is only a note of awareness into one of the more popular means of exercise, "long distance running."

The real answer is to exercise correctly and appropriately, and making certain you have adequate and proper recovery. This can be just as important as exercise itself. Part of a healthy regimen is variety. I could go through a load of overwhelming evidence indicating that conventional cardio or long distance running is one of the worst forms of exercise there is. Here are a couple that confirm the health alarming effects of long distance running: ~ A 2006 study screened 60 non-elite participants of the 2004 and 2005 Boston Marathons, using echocardiography and serum bio-markers. Just like the featured study above, it too found decreased right ventricular systolic function in the runners, caused by an increase in inflammation and a decrease in blood flow. ~ In a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology., researchers recruited a group of extremely fit older men. All of them were members of the 100 Marathon club, meaning athletes who had completed a minimum of 100 marathons. Half of these lifelong athletes showed some heart muscle scarring as a result - specifically the men who had trained the longest and hardest. ~ Recently published in the journal Circulation, this animal study was designed to mimic the strenuous daily exercise load of serious marathoners over the course of 10 years. All the rats had normal, healthy hearts at the outset of the study, but by the end most of them had developed "diffuse scarring and some structural changes, similar to the changes seen in the human endurance athletes."

Research emerging over the past several years has given us a deeper understanding of what your body requires in terms of exercise, and many of our past notions have simply been incorrect. In the next post I will dive into what the research says about exercise based on our human physiology.

References. Seigel, A. (2001). Effect of marathon running on inflammatory and hemostatic markers. American Journal of Cardiology, 88(8), 918-920. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11676965 Burns, A. (2011). Exercise-induced right ventricular dysfunction and structural remodelling in endurance athletes. European Heart Journal. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehr397

Are You Too Old To Exercise?

Your mind may actually be your biggest hurdle to staying fit and athletic well into your 80s and 90s, especially if you buy into the myth that you've got to spend your afternoons siting in a rocking chair once you reach 75. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not everyone has to become  a world class athlete to stay in shape. Exercise can be a part of your life no matter what your age, and, in fact, becomes only increasingly important as you get older. There's an overwhelming amount of evidence confirming that physical exercise is a key player in disease reduction, optimal mental, emotional and physical health, and longevity. After reviewing a few papers published between 2006 and 2010, researchers found that exercise reduces the risk of about two dozen health conditions, ranging from cancer and heart disease to type 2 diabetes, stroke, dementia and depression. Exercise also slows down the rate of aging itself, providing perhaps the closest example of a real life fountain of youth as we will ever find.

Ideally, you will have made exercise a regular part of your life long before you reach your "golden" years. But if you haven't, there's no better time to start than the present. Research has shown that regular exercise, even initiated late in life, offers profound health benefits. For instance:

  1. Even a small amount of exercise may protect the elderly from long-term memory loss and even help reverse some of the effects of aging.
  2. Women between the ages of 75 and 85, all of whom had reduced bone mass or full-blown osteoporosis, were able to lower their fall risk with strength training and agility activities.
  3. Moderate exercise among those aged 55-75 may cut the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which increases heart disease and diabetes risk.
  4. Among those who started exercising at age 50 and continued for 10 years, the rate of premature death declined dramatically, similar to giving up smoking and mirroring the level as seen among people who had been working out their entire lives.
  5. Exercise significantly improved muscle endurance and physical capacity among heart failure patients with an average age of 76.

Further, the older you get, the faster your muscles atrophy if you're not regularly engaging in appropriate exercise, so the key to avoiding sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss) is to challenge your muscles with appropriately intense exercise. Age-related muscle loss affects about 10-20 percent of those over 60, with higher rates as age advances, but you can prevent this from occurring if you exercise.

Exercise is a key to remaining steady on your feet as you get older, which is of incredible importance because not only are falls responsible for most fractures and traumatic brain injuries among the elderly, but those who fall can also develop an intense fear of falling again, which leads them to limit their activities and in turn increases their risk of falling even more.

So while it may seem like exercises to improve balance and strength are optional as you get older, they should really be viewed as a necessity like eating and sleeping. Exercise can literally become a life saver. As you get older your muscle and bone mass decreases and the senses that guide your balance, vision, touch, and proprioception may all start to deteriorate. This can make you unsteady on your feet. By taking the time to do balance, strength and other exercises on a regular basis you can keep your sense of balance strong, and even restore what's already been lost. In a study published 3 years ago, eight weeks of balance training reduced slips and improved the likelihood of recovery from slips among the elderly. Separate research, noted that altered balance is the greatest collaborator towards falls in the elderly. They found balance training is effective in improving functional and static balance, mobility and falling frequency in elderly women with osteoporosis.

So finally you can put the, "I'm too old." -- statement to rest please. Now you lead by example for your own family and show them that it is never to late to begin exercising.

References. Ambrose, L. (2004). Reistance and agility training reduce fall risk in women aged 75 to 85 with low bone mass: A 6 month randomized controlled trial. Pub Med, 5(52), 655-657. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15086643?dopt=Abstract