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Two Things You Don’t Know About Your Fat Layer

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1.  The majority of your fat leaves via respiration as carbon dioxide.  In other words, you breathe it out.  You don’t sweat it out, and it doesn’t magically convert into muscle.  Speaking of muscle, the one thing I wish everyone knew is that they have to eat a very specific amount of Calories each day from a balanced intake of carbs, fat, and protein to achieve fat loss without losing muscle mass.

Why is preserving muscle mass important?  Scientists use the weight of muscle to estimate resting metabolic rate (RMR), which is the number of Calories a person burns at rest.  More muscle = a higher RMR!  Don’t confuse RMR with total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) which takes activity into consideration.

So as an EXTREMELY general rule, if you exercise, eat a balanced diet and your scale weight stays roughly the same, you probably did a small amount of good towards increasing your metabolic rate.  There’s other stuff to take into consideration besides Calories though.  Fat storage happens when you eat too many Calories – you go over your TDEE – but as an example, if throughout the day the majority of your Calories come from fats and carbs with very little protein, you aren’t giving the body enough “building blocks” to maintain and potentially add lean mass.  Your scale weight can stay the same in that instance, but your resting metabolic rate will go down over time and you’ll look like a slimmer version of Jabba The Hutt.

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OK, maybe looking like this isn’t so bad.

 

2.  A fit person with a good amount of fat on their body lives MUCH longer than an inactive person carrying a lot of fat.  Yes, we all want to have a six pack and get thousands of followers on Instagram for being sexy, but muscle is important for other reasons too!  People with a lot of muscle substantially decrease their risk for diseases like diabetes and cancer.  People with a thicker “fat layer” can be and ARE healthier than people that are under fed, stressed out, and overworking themselves in both the gym and daily life.

The research of Dr. Steven Blair suggests that being physically active is more important than being lean as far as health is concerned.  The reason why I think this is information is important is because it gives people the confidence to be more patient with their journey.  People with a thicker fat layer often hear a lot of information that would point them in the direction of EXTREMES.  Initially it’s important to do what you can and move, you can affect your life and longevity dramatically by simply making changes that you enjoy.

Burn Fat, Eat Well, and Conquer The Gym!

Our group coaching forum – The Science Lab – is a community of people who’re burning fat and having killer workouts.

Join us today for 3 payments of $19.95 and you’ll gain access to the same information and tools that have helped thousands of members get results.

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Same can be said for food really; eating well doesn’t need to taste horrible and with some planning you can also affect the level of convenience dramatically.  Once you start your life headed in a more positive direction that momentum tends to lead you down a much better path as long as you don’t get too extreme too quickly.

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Healthy food CAN taste good!

16 Gifts Every Fit Person Wants In Their Stocking This Christmas

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1.  Eat To Perform Hoodie.  This was a limited run for our staff and friends of the site but look out in 2015 for a lot of cool options.

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2.  Go Pro Hero Silver.  Let’s face it, making the games is a fleeting option for most of us but filming our endeavors just makes things a lot more fun and this is a quick and easy way to do it.

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3.  Reebok Solar Pack Nanos.  These remind us that spring is just around the corner.

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Buy Solar Pack Nanos from Reebok!

4.  Olympic Lifting Shoes.  Preferably something vintage with a wooden heel that you can only find on eBay.

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5.  Bands and Chains.   If you are gonna lift weights you might as well look like a bad ass and make some noise.

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6.  Custom Jump Rope.  Because nothing says you are serious about working out quite the way a neon green rope with fluorescent orange handles does.

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Check out Rogue for a great selection of ropes!

7.  Knee Sleeves.  Keep your shins safe during deadlifts.  They also do a pretty good job of keeping your knees stable at other times as well.  Great accessory  pulled down as you stroll up to Chipotle for your Double Rice and Triple Chicken bowl.

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8.  Eat To Perform Membership.  Why the hell would you have all this fabulous gear and look like a chump with your shirt off?

Join The Science Lab!

Our group coaching forum – The Science Lab – is a community of people who’re burning fat and having killer workouts.

Join us today for 3 payments of $19.95 and you’ll gain access to the same information and tools that have helped thousands of members get results.

Are you ready to get started?  Click here to learn more about Eat To Perform!

9.  Tub of Vitargo.  To get you through that three day competition that you thought you would never do.

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10.  Starbucks gift card.  Because triple espressos are the best pre-workout drink going.

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11.  Coach’s Eye app.  So you can post all those cool slow mo PRs on Instagram.

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12.  Foam roller and Lacrosse balls.  To roll things out when your muscles get a little gnarly.

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Buy a mobility kit from Rogue!

13.  Virus international compression gear.  It looks great AND as an added bonus, it’s inexpensive.

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14.  Chipotle gift cards.  See number 7.

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15.  Dumbbells.  One of the most over looked pieces of gym equipment and also one of the more useful in terms of building muscle.

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16. Weightlifting belt.  Find someone with a back injury and they’ll probably have a belt.  Life’s too short to be a hero. Don’t use it all the time but when things get heavy or you are doing lot’s of reps, a belt can keep you safe.

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Buy a belt from Rogue!

“USAPL Senior State Recap” by Sheri Stiles

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As some of you may know, I competed in USAPL Senior State recently; for those few of you who follow me, I will share with you how it went!

After a long, frustrating, and emotional year off from powerlifting I cant tell you how good it felt to be back on the platform! There were many times during my injury and time off where I wondered if I would ever compete again.  Believe me, I was told many times, by many professionals, that I wouldn’t. I never stopped wanting to compete, or lift heavy… but I was close a time or two out of frustration and anger.

But I didn’t give up. I trained around my injury, did rehab exercises, got over my ego, and took the time off to heal.

Getting back up and competing was just icing on the cake of what I’ve learned and experienced over the last yr.  I can’t sit here and tell you it was my best meet ever—it wasn’t. I can’t talk about all the PR’s I hit, because only 1 was a meet PR. And I can’t blab on about winning, because I took 2nd.

What I can do, is tell you how amazing it was to squat without pain; how good it felt to deadlift heavy, and how awesome it was to get a bench attempt (and get it super easy!) that I missed at worlds last year. And most of all, how much I enjoyed competing, supporting others who share this passion, and seeing how supportive and proud my family was.

One of the spectators at the meet, whom I did not know, came up to me, introduced herself, and told me how much she’s enjoyed seeing my lifting videos and seeing me back in competition. She then asked if I was upset I did not win.  Like any other competitive athlete I like to win, of course—I mean we train hard and compete for a reason. However, after thinking about it for a minute I replied to her, “no.”

I was not upset I didn’t get 1st place; I was happy I didn’t give up in those times of doubt.

Plus, I cannot say that I was mad at how the meet went! Given the last time I competed was 11 months ago, I had taken 7 months off from squats and only trained my squat like 6 times leading up to this meet, and the fact I was sick; I can actually say I am extremely happy with how things went, and that I haven’t lost much of my strength at all!

Squat

Going into this meet, my best competition squat was 315lb (320lb gym PR) and a missed attempt of 332lb at Worlds last year. My 2nd attempt at Senior State was 297lb, which felt like a warm up! Took my 3rd attempt to 319lb, but missed it. Watching the video I shouldn’t have missed it, and I don’t believe strength was the issue but my form felt and looked off from the start. Could I have went a bit lighter, sure…but, it’s a 3rd attempt and that’s what they’re for J

I remember thinking to myself, 7 months off and only 6 training sessions back and I was still able to hit 300 pretty easy… I’m ok with that. Don’t worry, I plan to squat 350 this year :)

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Join us today for 3 payments of $19.95 and you’ll gain access to the same information and tools that have helped thousands of members get results.

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Bench Press

Next up was bench, which I have a love/hate relationship with; I try to like it as much as I do the other two lifts, but usually I don’t. It could be because it’s my weakest lift, or that it took me the longest to improve on…and still does! But, either way, I was happy with how it went in this meet. I benched 176lb at worlds (which I consider my best meet thus far) and missed 181lbs. Since then, I have benched 195lbs multiple times in the gym, and was planning to go for 203lbs in the meet to FINALLY get over 200. I took 181 as my 2nd attempt and got it as easy as I ever have! Instead of going for 203 on my 3rd, I was a little conservative and went for 193lbs. This shouldn’t have been an issue; I’d done it before! But, I got it a few inches off my chest and couldn’t lock it out.  I would have loved to get 203… heck 193lbs even, but for minimal training on bench as well, I hadn’t lost any strength!

Deadlift

Last but certainly not least! In fact, my favorite lift ever and the reason I compete….deadlifts J

Since I started powerlifting deadlifts have been strongest lift; the rush I get before I step up to pull is unmatched! My meet PR is 402lb and I’ve pulled that a few times. Last year at Worlds I missed 391lbs, but pulled it a few weeks later at the LA Fit Expo. Not a PR, but close! Leading up to Worlds, right before my injury, all my training percentages were based on a 425lb deadlift and I was right on track! Then I got hurt. Pulling close to my max through the pain may not have been smart, but I was able to do it. Fast forward a few months, and I was in the same place as I was for squats—left unable to train them heavy, if much at all. During rehab I trained other movements (including strongman implements) to hopefully have some carry over. For Senior State my planned attempts were 365lb, 380lb, 411lb. I was finally going to try and get over that previous 402 PR! After an easy opener, and a slower than normal 380lb 2nd attempt, I decided to go a little conservative yet again. I took 396lbs for my 3nd attempt, and after it flying off the ground I couldn’t lock the last few inches out… at least not legally in powerlifting– dang not being able to hitch like you can in strongman! I was a little disappointed that I didn’t go for a PR and miss that, instead of miss an attempt I’ve done before, but I can say that I pulled every attempt with out ANY pain!

With only being successful in my 2nd attempts, I had an 859 total, which was 11lbs off from my PR total of 870, and a wilks score of 384, which was very close to my PR wilks of 388.  I took 2nd based on wilks formula by about 2 wilks points.

Initially, I had the same “I should have done this” or “I should have hit that lift” thoughts running through my mind, until I realized I came within a few pounds of my best numbers after a year off from competition, and 7 months off from powerlifting training– and I did all that without the excruciating pain I was in before!

I didn’t take 1st place, I didn’t hit any PR’s, and my numbers on paper may have been less, but I am stronger than I was a year ago!

“Back to Basics: Posture and Why Things Hurt” By Tyler Kleinhuizen, CSCS

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Okay, by show of hands, how many people reading this have had one or more of the following:

Neck pain, shoulder pain, elbow pain, wrist pain, upper back pain, lower back pain, hip pain, knee pain, ankle pain.

All right, you can put your hand down now EVERYONE.

We know that pain as it relates to exercise is sent to our brain by nerves from our muscles. I am going to establish a scientific FACT here so that people are not confused: YOUR JOINTS DO NOT HAVE NERVES IN THEM. (articular cartilage – the surfaces in joints that slide on each other to allow joints to move smoothly has no ability to send signals to your brain.) SO STOP BLAMING YOUR PAIN ON YOUR JOINTS!

The pain you feel in your joints is not due to the joint itself or the health of the joint. It is due to the tissues that support, or are supposed to be supporting the joint. When we move, we put force into these supporting tissues. What they are able to do with the incoming force dictates whether we can move freely, or whether we are restricted in our movement and we feel pain. Think of muscles as your body’s shock absorbers. If your shock absorbers on your car are not working appropriately, you are going to have a bumpy ride.

Ok, so what can I do to give these tissues a jumpstart on doing their jobs and absorbing force correctly? Glad you asked:

POSTURE.

Posture is a dirty word that makes people think of rules and etiquette and WORK! Let’s use a neighbor word for posture that might not evoke so many groans: POSITION.

Position basically means in what angles we are moving or holding our limbs. Simple concept: Human beings all have the same basic design in our bones and muscles. There is not an individual anatomy or physiology book for each human. This means that when I put my limb at a different angle than you do, I am going to use muscles differently than you will, even though we have the same bones and the same muscles. However, the musculoskeletal system is designed to work most efficiently in one position for absorbing or creating force in any movement. This carries over from person to person because of our common design. This is precisely why your coach emphasizes lifting with consistent and proper form. Form should look the same every time, and should be based on an understanding of how the body is designed (biomechanics).

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Join us today for 3 payments of $19.95 and you’ll gain access to the same information and tools that have helped thousands of members get results.

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The problem with position does not start in the gym. It starts at your desk at work, in the driver’s seat of your car, and lounging on your couch at home. It is found mostly in the 23 hours per day you are NOT at the gym. Our brains are constantly learning from the information being sent from our muscles. They are learning what length and tension muscles should be held at to support us and allow us to do what we need to do, and also learning where it should deposit scar tissue as a protective means, keeping force away from tissues and neurologically blocking communication with areas of muscle.

So, if I sit at my computer all day and roll my shoulders forward and hunch, the balance between the length of the upper back and the length of the chest and shoulder muscles are thrown off, not to mention our BREATHING. (lots of articles and videos exist on this subject). That means when I get to the gym to do my overhead squat, handstand pushup, pullup, pushup, press, or any upper body exercise, the foundation my body is working from with my upper body position is the one I provided it from my crumpled up cubicle-dweller or Neanderthal posture all day! My brain believes that shoulders rolled forward, neck forward, chest shortened and upper back over-stretched is the normal position it should maintain, so our misinformed muscles (which were not designed to work out of ideal biomechanical position for extended periods of time) become overly fatigued in areas or simply cannot keep up with the demands of our workout. The result: PAIN and RESTRICTED MOVEMENT.

Here is a little diagram to help you determine where you fit:

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The same fatigue scenario plays out in the lower body, pelvis, and lower back, creating patterns of muscles functioning outside of their ideal roles, because we have taught them to do so by our position throughout the day (as well as in the gym). I have Anterior Pelvic tilt highlighted, because for those of us who lift weights, this is a very common problem!

So what can I focus on to help myself?

The field of study we are touching on is again called Biomechanics. As a general rule, the more right angles and straight lines we can keep when standing/sitting/moving/lifting, the closer we will be to functioning how our muscles and skeleton work together best. To get a little more specific, these two tips will likely provide the best effort to result ratio.

  1. 1.       Neutral Pelvis Position
  2. 2.       Elevated Sternum Position

(I will be writing a future article discussing the pelvis, low back, and a troublemaker muscle called the iliopsoas, so stay tuned for that!)

KEYS TO KEEPING A NEUTRAL PELVIS:

  • Stand with your feet hip width apart, feet parallel with each other and equal pressure between balls of feet and heels as well as between insides and outsides of feet.
  • Keep a very slight bend in your knees.
  • Use your hamstrings to tilt your pelvis so that your pubic bone is in line vertically with your sternum. (note, this should not involve much forward or backward motion of the hips, mostly tilting.)
  • This should make you feel as if you are standing very tall and upright.
    • The same concepts can be kept when sitting or lying down.

KEYS TO KEEPING AN ELEVATED STERNUM:

  • Engage your lats (latissimus dorsi) to lengthen your pecs (pectoralis major) and your traps (trapezius).
  • This muscular action should not move the spine, it should move the scapula.
  • An elevated sternum position does NOT involve arching the back.
  • If you stand with your back against a wall, pulling your shoulder blades back and down to flatten them to the wall will accomplish elevating the sternum.

Quick video resource to visually see my pelvis and scapula tips performed by my friend Garrett at his clinic:

-Tyler Kleinhuizen, CSCS

Tyler is the owner and CEO of Evo UltraPerformance, a performance and rehabilitation system that believes the human is a miracle and strives to help each person achieve or recover their ultimate goal.   (Edina & Coon Rapids, MN; www.evoultraperformance.com)

“Pull Yourself Together! – How To Master Pull-ups” by Dani Horan

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Recently, I’ve had a lot of members ask about improving their pull-ups.  Some say they aren’t getting any better at pull-ups – they’re stuck on the same band – or they just aren’t getting any easier.

Here’s the thing:  if you want to get better at something, you need to work on it a few times a week.  Sometimes repetition of the given movement you are trying to get better at is all you need, while at other times you’ll need to attack the movement from different angles, using accessory movements and different variations of the end goal.

In this article, I will go over exercises that have worked for me and many others; I perform most of these movements on a weekly basis.  Even if your pull-ups are good, it’s important to always works on parts of the pull-up to achieve maximum efficiency.

Getting Started – The Hollow Position

The hollow position is a movement that strengthens and stabilizes your midline; it is the basis for every gymnastic movement. This is a drill you could do every day if you wanted, either as a warm-up or a cool down.  When you perform this movement, it should be extremely hard to hold.  When you first start you may only be able to hold the proper position for 5 seconds to start, that’s ok!  I’d rather you hold the proper position than cheat the position.  Below is an image of the proper hollow position.

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You could start with Tabata Hollow Rocks or Holds, 8 sets of 20 seconds of Work followed by 10 seconds of rest, or start by accumulating 60 seconds in the Hollow Position in as many sets as needed.

Here is a video of the hollow position…

Once you get comfortable and it seems to be getting easy, increase the time to two minutes.  You could even try holding this position while hanging from the pull-up bar.  Getting strong in this position will only help your gymnastic movements.

Scapular Pull-ups and Shoulder Engagement

Scapular pull-ups are another way to help strengthen your position on the bar.   This is a movement that could be performed as a warm-up for any of the gymnastic movements and also a great warm-up for your shoulders.  The Scapular pull-up not only strengthens your positioning, but it teaches you proper positioning when hanging from the pull-up bar.

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In the image above, notice on the left how close the subjects shoulders are to his ears.  On the right you’ll notice he is engaged, in an active position.  The right is the position you want to hold when performing any gymnastic movement on a bar (Toes-to bar, Pull-ups, Bar Muscle-Ups, etc.).  A Scapular pull-up is going from the disengaged position to an active position.

Start with 3 sets of 5, don’t rush this movement, and build from there.  Below is a video demonstrating the scapular pull-up…

Depending on your abilities, just hanging onto the bar can be a challenge.  Practicing an active hang position for as long as possible may be the best starting point for you.

Once you’ve mastered the Hollow Position on the ground and the Scapular Pull-up, try putting the two together.  Try performing Hollow Rocks on a pull-up bar while being in an active position.  Start small, 2-5 Reps and get off the pull-up bar.  Performing Hollow Rocks on a bar will transfer to the kip that we all want to master!

Join The Science Lab!

Our group coaching forum – The Science Lab – is a community of people who’re burning fat and having killer workouts.

Join us today for 3 payments of $19.95 and you’ll gain access to the same information and tools that have helped thousands of members get results.

Are you ready to get started?  Click here to learn more about Eat To Perform!

Moving Ahead:  Building Strength

I know we all want to do kipping pull-ups, but before you start performing kipping pull-ups it is recommended you develop the strength to perform at least one strict pull-up.  Here’s the reason:  if you start kipping before you develop the strength to do a strict pull-up, this will lead to overuse and other shoulder related injuries.  Strict pull-ups will prepare your muscles and protect your shoulder from the kipping movement. Performing strict pull-ups with a band is a great place to start if you need assistance, you’ll just need to find the band that works best for you.

Make sure to check out our article “7 Reasons Why You’re STILL Struggling with Pull-Ups”!

Negative pull-ups are another exercise to help you get stronger at Pull-ups.   To perform a negative pull-up, get your chin over the bar (use a box and jump to get your chin over) and lower yourself as slowly as possible.   Start with 2 X 3-8 depending on your ability.  It’s better to do fewer reps and make them count, than do more reps and cheat the reps.  Here is a video on Negative pull-ups (start at the 1:00):

Ring rows are great for developing a stronger Pull-up.  You can scale Ring Rows to your ability; you can make Ring Rows harder than a Pull-up.   Here is a video demonstrating the Ring Row and how to scale it:

You could also perform reverse rows on a fixed bar.  One of the kid’s pull-up bars in the back room is perfect for this exercise.

ReverseRow

Row variations can also help build pull-up strength.  There are many different row variations you can choose from.

DB row

Double Dumbbell Row

single arm db row

Single Arm Dumbbell Row

supinated barbell row

Supinated Barbell Row- Will incorporate more of your bicep.

Bent row

Pronated Barbell Row- Will incorporate more lats and back.

Working on your Chin-up is another way of strengthening your pull-up.  Chin-ups are performed with your palms facing you.  If you need assistance grab a band!

Band Assisted Pull-ups

I’m going to finish off this article with talking about bands.  Bands can either hurt you or help you.   First off, when you get in and out of the band be careful, especially when you’re sweaty and breathing hard!  Sometimes getting in and out of the band is the most challenging part, it’s best to use a higher box to get into the band.  When using a band you want to always make sure it’s challenging you, if the band you pick is catapulting you up, chances are it’s too easy.  You want the band to be a struggle, but you want it to be able to allow you full range of motion.  Full range of motion in the Pull-up is arms fully extended when at the bottom and your chin is clearly over the bar at the top.  Below you will find approximately how much assistance the bands aid you…

Black Band: 130lbs

Green Band: 90lbs

Blue Band: 60lbs

Red Band: 40lbs

Purple Band: 20lbs

Orange Band: 10lbs

You can always mix and match the bands, once you get to the orange you’re pretty much there!

There are a lot of other exercises to work on that will aid you in getting stronger at the pull-up. These are the exercises that have helped me and I’ve seen work for other athletes.  Remember that we all start somewhere; I started on a blue band.  The hardest part was getting rid of the band, I remember feeling like I needed it, but really I didn’t.  If you put in the time and effort eventually you WILL get strong enough and you’ll no longer physically need the band.  If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask!

“22 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got Fit” by Paul Nobles

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They say hindsight is 20/20.  Everything makes so much sense as you get older and gain experience; what seemed insignificant then clearly matters now.

This is just a short list of musings regarding training, nutrition, and life in general that I put together to share with you after five years of consisten dedication to becoming the best person I can be.  Enjoy!

1a. Sex is a lot better when your wife isn’t worried that you’re going to die (though technically that was my first exposure to intervals).

1b.  Let’s just say that your manhood decreases the more unfit you become and leave it at that.

2.  Fat is math, so if you are 220 pounds and 40% body fat and want to get to 10%, you basically need to lose 66 pounds of fat.

3.  Healthy food can be enjoyable and it can also be convenient.

4.  Throw a salad into the mix most every day; it makes a big difference. (Do it up right – no McDonald’s drive thru bullshit unless that is all that is available.)

5.  Ice cream on weekends never made anyone fat – ice cream every day plus 4,000 additional Calories of food does the trick quite nicely.

6.  Foods that made you fat will make you jacked when you lift weights.

7.  Feed your cardio.

8.  You don’t have x amount of fat to lose – you only have 5 pounds or 3 pounds or whatever it is you choose.  I found that taking on my goals in bite-sized chunks made them much more attainable.

9.  Re-evaluate.  I went from the mid 40th percentile of body fat to 9% but I got too small.  I am now about 15% and feel more comfortable.  That said, my goals are always progressing.  For weightlifting and powerlifting, being bigger is better.  If I decide I want to pursue something more endurance-based each percent only equals 1.75 pounds (I weigh 175 pounds).  So losing say 10 lbs. gets me back under 10%.  I constantly re-evaluate based on what I enjoy doing or what challenges me to stay active.

10.  Get better at exercise.  If your exercise isn’t enjoyable, find something that is – whatever you do you will be more motivated to do it daily if you are seeing results and it stimulates you mentally.

11.  Abs are muscles.  Want visible abs? Don’t eat in a Caloric deficit all of the time.

Join The Science Lab

Our group coaching forum – The Science Lab – is a community of people who’re burning fat and having killer workouts.

Join us today for 3 payments of $19.95 and you’ll gain access to the same information and tools that have helped thousands of members get results.

Are you ready to get started?  Click here to learn more about Eat To Perform!

12.  Don’t diet in the beginning.  Change the quality but not the quanitity –  you are going to need that extra energy for all the new cool stuff you are doing.

13.  Don’t be so drastic.

14.  The goal is progress, not perfection.

15.  Allow guiltless, joyful eating to be a part of your life.

16.  Do something you enjoy outside of the gym.

17.  “Doing” is more important than you think so when you want to diet without activity, realize that isn’t what humans evolved from.  Can it work? Yes.  Does it often work well?  Not really.

18.  Whatever you do, try and do it with others.

19.  What got you here won’t get you there.  To get to 149 pounds I was WODing 6 days a week but I was hurt a lot.  Now I WOD 2-3 days a week with some long endurance and some slow lifting days and that feels more correct after 5-6 years in.

20.  Make sleep a priority.

21.  Record everything.  Take pictures, take measurements, and record your workouts.  It will shock you the changes you make in a short period of time.

22.  Lastly you won’t look like George Clooney when you are done and that’s OK.  People have unrealistic expectations of what the end product will look like and that sets you up for failure.  Embrace the process as an ongoing endeavor rather than an end zone where you have an 8 pack and you will mentally be in a much better place moving forward.

 

“Five Reasons You Aren’t Losing Body Fat” by James Barnum

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Fat loss eludes people for many different reasons but there are almost always common threads.  This short list goes over some of the most common reasons why people stall or quit on their way to achieving their fat loss goals.

Without further ado…

1.  You’re not eating enough – either too little or too much.  The key word here is “enough.”  Eating too much is obviously going to prevent you from losing fat…But eating too little?  That may seem to be a counter-intuitive statement.  What gives?

Well, If you cut Calories too hard while exercising intensely you’ll overwhelm your adaptive abilities and actually end up fatter, as you burn muscle tissue in response to the incredible stress.  Muscle is very costly to maintain and when your body isn’t fed properly, it will get rid of anything it doesn’t deem particularly useful.  Fat is, unfortunately, more useful in times where energy intake is low and muscle tissue isn’t.  This is not a recipe for a good looking body – you’ll actually end up looking “skinny fat.”

Eating “enough” means fueling your body so you can build or retain lean mass and increase performance, while creating just enough of a Calorie deficit to gradually lose body fat.  The trick is knowing how to determine an optimal Caloric intake based upon your unique circumstances.  Luckily, our coaches can help.

2.  You don’t have a plan or a support system.  To achieve a goal – fat loss in this instance – you need to take a reliable route to get there, use the tools you have available to you, and (this is a big one) you need to consult people with experience and knowledge that you might not possess.  Nearly everyone who’s made their dreams come true will reference the importance of careful consideration, consistent action, the guidance of their mentors, and the support of their peers – they’re universal constants.  Without those variables in play, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter more than your fair share of obstacles.

A good fat loss plan should outline basic things like Calorie/macronutrient goals, what kinds of activity you’ll be doing each day of the week, and how long certain phases will last.  It shouldn’t emphasize supplements or give you an overly-restrictive list of foods – eating clean is the absence of a plan – nor should it have you doing hours of cardio every day.  It should be balanced.

If you’re just throwing stuff out there and seeing what happens, you may see some results but you can’t guarantee a specific outcome by engaging in random behavior.

Need Help With Your Diet?  Join the ETP Science Lab!

Our group coaching forum – The Science Lab – is a community of people who’re burning fat and having killer workouts.

Join us today for 3 payments of $19.95 and you’ll gain access to the same coaches, information, and tools that have helped thousands of members get results.

Are you ready to get started?  Click here to learn more about Eat To Perform!

3.  You’re too rigid/restrictive and you hate your diet.  Let me tell you a short story:

Our subject – we’ll call her Molly – is 35, a mother of two, and she works a full time job.  About six months ago, she started going to an awesome gym 4 days a week and started eating mostly Paleo but she’s just not seeing the fat loss results she wants.  She convinces herself that if she goes 100% Paleo i.e. she cuts out ice cream with the kids on Friday night, ditches her nightly glass of red wine (two things that Molly enjoys very much) and starts going to the gym twice a day, she’ll get the body she wants.

Fast forward six months:  Molly did lean out a bit, but she’s not even close to where she wanted to be.  In fact, she’s at wits end; her energy levels are super low, she’s hungry all the time, she has intense cravings for the treats she cut out of her diet, and between the kids, work, and hitting the gym at 5 a.m. every morning to get in that extra training session, she’s hardly getting any sleep.

She can’t take it anymore – something has to go – so she stops exercising.  A couple months later, she’s been done with Paleo for a while and she’s regained all of the weight she lost the past year.

Why am I telling you this story?  Because we see people go through it far too often!  When you take an “all or nothing” approach to fat loss, you’re bound to end up face down in a cheesecake wondering how you got there.  Contrary to popular belief, people who’re flexible with their diets are the ones with the best overall body composition!  If you can’t do it for life, it’s too much and you need to relax on things a bit before you’ve dug your own grave.  Regardless of the type of diet you eat or how serious you are about exercise, adherence will be one of the most important factors to consider because real results take time!

4.  You’re not logging your food.  I get it…Logging food kinda sucks.  It’s another thing to keep track of, another worry, and that’s why we firmly believe in doing it only when necessary.  When you start a new diet, training program, or come back from vacation, you need to know how much food you’re eating vs. how much you should be eating so you can make quantitative modifications to your nutrition that will result in fat loss without killing your performance.

Take a week or two to log your food and see where you’re at.  Are you maintaining your weight with your current diet?  Cool – drop some Calories here and there and you should be able to lose fat.  Are you losing weight and feeling good?  Awesome – you know that dipping below this number will probably be a bad idea.  Gaining weight?  Again, if you’re tracking your food you have numbers to go by and you can start reducing your Calories a bit to get things under control.

After you’ve established a general idea of how much you’re eating and what you need to do to work towards a goal, you can stop logging food for a while.  3-4 weeks out of a year isn’t a huge inconvenience, but without data you’re taking a shot in the dark and that can set you back months!

5.  You’re not prioritizing performance.  I’ll let you in on a little secret.

Most of the people you want to look like are not worried about their body fat percentage; they’re worried about their performance!  They (drum roll please) Eat To Perform!  Increasing your performance is almost always a good indicator that you’re building or preserving lean mass.  That means that most of the time, you should be eating to fuel your workouts to increase work capacity – strength, endurance, speed – and spend a few short months each year focused on gradually losing fat while maintaining performance.  If you stray too far from that, you’ll probably end up making poor decisions and sabotage your results.

Learn To Handstand Walk w/ Anna Ólafsdóttir (text and video!)

AnnaHSW


Many people have trouble learning to perform handstand walks, but they’re actually not that hard! It’s like riding a bike; it’s only hard when you haven’t mastered the basics!

First things first, If you haven’t already, it’s essential that you master “the handstand” before moving on. It might sound scary to toss your feet up over your head, especially away from the wall, but deal with challenge and you won’t regret it.

In case you have not yet mastered the basic handstand, you really should do that before you try to walk. One way to learn to stand on your hands is to follow these steps:

A) Handstand facing the wall

  • Face the wall.  Lie down on the floor with your toes close to the wall, then slowly climb up the wall with your feet. When you have reached the handstand, keep your core tight and your shoulders active.

B) Handstand facing away from the wall

  • The next step is to get your back facing the wall. Start by extending your arms straight above your head with your palms facing forward and remember to keep your elbows locked out. To get the best balance point, put one foot in front of the other and the other foot slightly outward. Remember to look down at where you are going to place your hands.
  • Next, learn how to kick up.  For the kick off you should shift your weight to your pointed foot, lean over at the waist with extended arms and swing them towards the ground at the same time your back leg should naturally start to lift. Now use that momentum of your downward swing to kick you into the handstand.

C) Freestanding handstand

  • Find a spotter to assist you. Follow the same notes as for the last movement, “handstand facing away from the wall”.  Note that it’s better to put too little power into the kick off when you have no wall to lean on and try it again until you figure out how much power is enough instead of giving it too much to start with.
  • Your partner should now be ready to spot you by helping you find your balance. Once you’re feeling confident, your spotter can let go and let you try on your own.

ETP Science Lab

Our group coaching forum – The Science Lab – is a community of people who’re burning fat and having killer workouts.

Join us today for 3 payments of $19.95 and you’ll gain access to the same information and tools that have helped thousands of members get results.

Are you ready to get started?  Click here to learn more about Eat To Perform!

Walk On Your Hands

Assuming you have mastered the handstand and are ready for the next level, i.e. to take some steps! Before you start walking on your hands do the following:

1) Start by taking a few steps on the spot with a support from a wall to get the feel for things.

2) Then do a little warm up for your wrists and forearms since you’ll be putting all your weight on them.

3) Before you start walking, it’s good to know that you can save yourself when and if you feel like you are falling and landing on your back. So first do a few roll overs. Then try to kick yourself to a handstand bend your arms, tuck your head, and roll out of the handstand.

4) Now find someone to spot you.  That spotter should stand in front of you to catch you and hold your calves while you walk.

Now you should be ready to give the walking part a try. Follow these steps:

D) Follow the steps in C to kick yourself into handstand.  Use a spotter.

E) Keep your legs straight and together, your core tight and your shoulders active and remember to look at your hands at all times.

F) In order to move forward, you should tilt your heals a little in the direction you want to go. Then move one hand forward, in the direction you want to go. Remember to stay as tight as you can and take small steps.  Small steps are easier if you are learning. Continue with the baby steps until you are comfortable with them and then slowly increase the step size.  If you start going too fast, take bigger steps to slow down and regain control.

G) To get out of the handstand the easiest way is to bend your legs back down from the waist to stop. But if you feel as though you are going to land on your back, try to bend your arms, tuck your head, and roll out of the handstand.

1st Place Challenge Winner Sarah’s ETP Story

Sarah Stoiber B4A

“I would not have been able to achieve this without direction and support.”


My journey with Eat to Perform began about 1 year ago with stopping in my tracks every time I’d see a new article posted on Facebook, titles such as “Why Eating More Can Help You Get Leaner”, “Overtraining & Recovery” and “Keep The Carbs to Lose Fat”

At this time I’d finally committed to my workouts and was training 5-6 days per week and limiting carbs to a very low Paleo cheater level essentially. The articles intrigued me as they were totally not what I’d thought I’d learned about leaning out and increasing performance. So in January after winning a holiday weight loss challenge at my box, I really wanted to gain strength - I’ve always had that skinny fat thing going on.

So I officially signed up with Eat to Perform. Everyone was super helpful to a newbie; how to get started, tracking your food, etc… April Blackford really kind of swooped me up and helped me get going. I began PR’ing like a madman.

Eating more food AND a lot more carbs DID increase my performance.  I did gain a couple of pounds initially but they did end up leveling out, plus I didn’t really care because I was increasing strength which was my personal goal at the time.

The Decision to Pursue Fat Loss

Then came the August ETP 60 day body fat loss challenge.  I had a decision to make – did I want to shed some body fat or continue with strength gains?

It was a tough one – but being that I’d been consistently eating more and meeting my strength goals with lift PRs and kipping pull-ups minus the bands, I decided it was time to shift gears; time to try to rid myself of some body fat.  It’s only 60 days then I can get back to building.

It is a cycle I learned through Eat to Perform; it’s very difficult lose body fat until you are feeding your body enough consistently to be able to eat at a deficit or go on a cut. If you aren’t eating enough to start with, then you eat a little bit less – your body’s like “So what, big deal, you’re starving me anyhow. Oh and by the way, I’m gonna eat your muscles too.”

This challenge meant big changes for me as I knew if I was going to do this my objective was optimal results and whatever it takes to get there. Zero cardio, yep, I said it – zero – other than 30 minute walks on my rest days (is that really called cardio?) Oh, and I started taking 4 committed rest days each week and only 3 lifting heavy days. That meant one of the most difficult changes – not cross training for 60 days.

I love my box; it is very much community based and 3 minutes from my home. Funny because with those relationships–it was like my 2nd home, 5-6 days a week + parties.  However, again in comes April Blackford. She knew all of this about me… and also that I liked to use butter as frosting. She took me under her wing and “coddled” me through this challenge.

ETP Science Lab

Our group coaching forum – The Science Lab – is a community of people who’re burning fat and having killer workouts.

Join us today for 3 payments of $19.95 and you’ll gain access to the same information and tools that have helped thousands of members get results.

Are you ready to get started?  Click here to learn more about Eat To Perform!

Now what I knew about April is that with all she does, she does not have time to give this kind of attention to someone who’s not going to stick with her, the program, and communicate daily. If I stopped, why would she continue to help me? So I kept my end of the bargain which was my commitment. That meant a gazillion questions for her ALL THE TIME, just keeping up my end of the bargain :)

I would not have been able to achieve this without her direction and support. Between work stress and a hunger fit, there was a day I thought I might stab a coworker in the eye – April quickly talked me down explaining that is actually a hunger hormone called ghrelin acting up…Ahhh I have gremlins!  Made total sense.

Another new change for me was getting active in the forum; this was a huge help for me. I’d belonged to ETP for 7 months prior and rarely ever logged into the Science Lab Forum. Boy was I glad when I finally did get regular in there. Again, the level of friendly support was just crazy, and fun! We talk about things in that forum that are ridiculously funny, applicable, and so true. With the Administrators and Moderators all coming from different backgrounds – whether it’s powerlifting, bodybuilding, Olympic lifting, etc. – I feel like there is not one nutrition or performance question that has a chance to be overlooked. I call them the Forum Fairies…all so supportive and helpful!

Sarah's bodpod

Sarah’s BOD POD readings – She lost 8 lbs. of fat!

Since the challenge, I’ve moved onto dead hang pull-ups (3 and working on more) and can see very faint abs looking back at me in the mirror. I am really excited to work on building muscle mass now, eating more… I may gain a little bit of that fat back, get a little puffy, which I’ll take with the strength gains. When I’m ready to cut again, I know l’ll lose that puffiness just like I did the last time. When I told my boss that I’d won this Eat to Perform challenge, his response was “Congrats on winning your eating contest.” Lol not quite what this past challenge was, but now that I’m on to muscle gains, let the eating contest begin!

“Individualizing Advice” by Sheri Stiles

sheripaul


The advice and help from others is necessary to compete and be successful in any sport; no one wakes up an expert. Often times, you have to put in a lot of effort to see even a small result, but you do it anyway! You go through a lot of trial and error to see what works best for you as an individual.

Others have asked me about some of the things I do before a competition, and while some may be applicable to many, some are very individualized.

One of those things is the big dreaded weight cut. I am secretly extremely jealous of those who do it, and do it successfully! I, however, am not one of those people. Its not for lack of trying; I have attempted a time of two, and regardless if I used the “correct way”—you know, because everyone will tell you they are an expert in this… it does not work for me.  My body doesn’t handle those fluctuations well, I don’t know if it’s some physiological hormonal thing, or if it’s a mental thing, but either way, it doesn’t adapt to that stress well.  Having a 24hr weigh-in would be much better, but this holds especially true to the 2-hr weigh-ins. I am sure it could be done and is not impossible, but I choose to not make a quick weight cut.

This does not mean you shouldn’t cut weight if that’s what you want to do. It simply means not everything 1 person is doing will work for you.

Next is the topic of rest before a competition. I do not recover as fast or as well as I would like to. In a perfect world I’d love to recover the next day so that I could crush more and more weight; my body, however, has a different agenda. Again, I am very jealous of those who can lift up until a few days before competition!  I have always taken a week off, and this amount of time has felt sufficient for me to feel recovered. Everyone handles stressors differently, and in learning to listen to my body, I have learned I need quiet a bit of time to rest before a meet.

Others will tell you to keep lifting up until a day or two before; neither way is right or wrong. It simple means not everything 1 person is doing will work for you.

These differences hold true to warm-ups as well; I know plenty great lifters who take 2-3 warm ups and they are ready to hit the platform. Me, I need to foam roll, roll my hip on the softball for a few minutes, and do a few mobility drills before I am ready for heavy lifting. You will need to find what works best for you to become warm and ready to tear things up!

Oh, and pigging out before/during a competition is another thing that makes me jealous of those able! I just want to be one of those walking around shoveling in food all day. My stomach can’t handle it, unfortunately L Instead I have to settle for baby food, yogart, and some mike and ikes.

What I want you all to know is that others are necessary for your success. You will not know everything, and you can learn from everyone you meet. Take their advice and find what works best for you! Remember—some things just don’t work for some people!

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