Tag Archives: weight training

I’m an Author! OMG!!!

Holy cow!! This happened!!!  Check that off the bucket list!

This book as been in the planning stages since 2013.  I’m glad I didn’t write it back then.  The period from 2015 to 2017 was intense with respect to staying on track and struggling with the mental game.  There were lessons to be learned and my ego needed to be beat up a bit to learn them.

My perspective on how to sustain a “fit life” is more balanced now.  I tried to get all of that into this book so it will become a handbook for “how not to quit” along with some practical tips about eating and such.

When I finished teaching in June, I made a plan to write this book in 30 days.  Took a few weeks longer.  But hey!  It’s up now!  Yay!!!

My inner math nerd did my very best to go live with the book on Amazon on August 18 at 8:18 am.  Yes.  That’s 8/18/18 at 8:18 am (if you write your dates like we do here in the states).  Hahahaha!

While I wait for Amazon to set up the “Inside this Book” feature, I thought I’d share the intro with you here.  These are images of the actual pages in the book.  (Pause the slideshow to read.  Maybe increase the zoom on browser, too.)

 

 

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I’d like to thank my husband, Paul, for helping me with the cover.  (If you remember – there was a banner behind me on stage with a picture of a guy in board shorts. Check out Paul’s self-imposed 77-day boot camp adventure here.)

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Next step – get the Kindle version up.  That shouldn’t take long.  Just need to check on the formatting to make sure it looks good as an ebook.

Eventually – Audible.  That may take a bit longer.  I learned I can do that as a self-publishing author.   Yay!   I want to narrate and edit it myself, so I need to watch some tutorials about how to do that.

If you want to purchase the paperback book on Amazon, you’ll get it speedy quick!

If you want a signed copy, that will take longer because you’re getting that from me.  I’m waiting for my copies to arrive, then I’ll write in your copy, then mail it off.  Limited supplies on that option, so click here.  If you get a order form, there are still some left!

When the copies I ordered arrived, I will be randomly drawing a name or two from the mailing list and sending off a free copy.  If you’re not on my mailing list but would like to be, you can join us over here.

If you would like me to be your Accountability Coach or Nutrition Consultant, click here for more information.

 

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Filed under Books, Faith, Life, Nutrition, Organization Tips, Weight Loss, Workouts

Guest Blogger Colin DeWaay: Nutrition for Training Recovery and Performance

A real live lifter drinking her actual protein shake.  DO try this at home!  Read on and as Colin explains what’s important (and what isn’t important) about nutrition for lifting recovery.

If you’re an active lifter, which I’m assuming you are just by clicking on this article, there’s no doubt you want to get the most out of your training. So often we talk about different styles of training, how often we should train, different splits, etc. but the problem is if you aren’t properly fueled for your workouts or recovering properly you aren’t getting the most out of your hard work. Which is why I want to talk about nutrition for training performance and recovery today.

First, I want to take you back, way back, 20-25 years ago when I was a teenager first getting into weights. I was really skinny back then, sitting around 5’10” 120-130 lbs I was often picked on for my size. As someone who became desperate to put on size, naturally I started lifting weights. Into the gym I would go, working hard, going to the gym every day. I LOVED lifting but there was a small problem, my muscles never got any bigger. What gives? Why am I working so hard and not seeing results for my efforts? Well as I look back on things it was pretty obvious. I knew NOTHING about the importance of nutrition for building muscle. So I didn’t change my eating habits at all. I was doing endless amounts of cardio for all the sports I played. I wasn’t recovering and I wasn’t fueling myself properly. Strangely tons of cardio coupled with a diet of nothing but pizza, hot dogs and hamburgers doesn’t get the job done (not that you can’t ever have those foods.)

With this became several years of on again off again lifting patterns. It wasn’t until I was 29 years old that I became serious. This time I started looking into how to build muscle more efficiently. I found out protein builds muscle, so I began eating a ton of protein (more than I need really.) I discovered you had to eat enough food to efficiently build. Wouldn’t you know it, I started seeing results! With this my love affair with weights finally stuck. Looking back I was still incredibly ignorant but at least I was getting somewhere. Anyway, here I am 9 years later, doing this stuff for a living, and I’ve gained some knowledge on the subject, or at least I sure hope! So I want to pass on some of that knowledge so you too can hopefully start achieving better results for your efforts in the gym.

Step number one to properly recovering from the gym is to not only make sure you’re getting sufficient calories but also sufficient protein. I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about macro breakdowns because I’ve gone over setting macros before. Keep in mind this article is NOT about losing weight, this is about optimizing nutrition for performance and recovery. But the moral of the story is if you want to recover and perform your best you have to be fueling your body properly. It needs enough protein to repair the damage you’re doing to your muscle and grow. It needs sufficient carbs to provide energy and fuel your workouts (that’s right, better get over that fear of carbs.) Fat also aids in digestion and plays a role in hormone support so we can’t just avoid fats either. Bottom line, you need enough calories.
How many calories should you be eating? I can’t say that without knowing a lot more information about you because every individual is unique and needs to be treated as such (again read the article about setting macros for more detail here.) But at the end of the day before we look at anything like meal timing/frequency, supplements, or anything else, your total macronutrient intake is going to be the most important thing for your results, by far. Regardless of when and how often you eat. Once you get that down, then we can start looking at some possible ways to take it to the next level.

One of those things? Meal timing. I’m sure at some point you’ve heard (probably by supplement companies) that you have to slam a protein shake right after your workout is done or you’re not going to recover and build muscle effectively. While this is wildly untrue, I do think it’s wise to get some decent nutrition in after (as well as before) your workout. I actually do recommend you get a good protein source within an hour or two both pre and post-workout and I also recommend getting around 25% of your total carbs for the day in both meals as well. The reason for pre-workout is to be properly fueled for your work so you can perform at your best and post-workout the body is primed to absorb and utilize nutrients better so it only makes sense to take advantage of that to me.

When it comes to protein I recommend around 1 gram per pound (or per pound of lean body mass if you’re more overweight) splitting it up fairly evenly 3-5 times per day every 4-6 hours to take advantage of the “leucine threshold” (the amount of leucine, the primary amino acid in protein responsible for muscle-protein synthesis, that can be used at one time for anabolism.) There also appears to be a possible “refractory” period with increasing protein synthesis, meaning we can’t elevate it too soon after taking in protein, which is why I recommend spacing out your protein rather than constantly feeding it. For what it’s worth, by the way, I don’t buy into your post-workout protein needs to be a shake. It’s an easy and convenient way to get it in, but if you just come home and eat a meal with a good protein source that’s every bit as effective.

For carbs outside of the pre/post workout window it doesn’t really matter when you eat the rest. It might be a good idea to get a decent amount, maybe around 15%, in your first meal just to get things going, but really whatever you like is fine. When it comes to fat it doesn’t really matter when you eat it, but I do recommend limiting fat (as well as fiber) pre-workout to avoid any potential gastrointestinal issues during training.

Now, I know I’ve already said this but it’s worth repeating. How and when you split up your nutrition is nowhere near as important as your totals for the day/week. So if trying to split everything up perfectly causes you stress/anxiety and knocks you off your plan then just eat in a way you enjoy that will help you reach your goals. Or start with working on hitting macro goals and slowly move towards timing as you get better. But it doesn’t matter how “optimal” something is if you aren’t going to follow it. That said if you don’t mind and want to get everything you can out of your nutrition, the above strategy would be my recommendation.

Besides that a couple of often overlooked factors with regards to nutrition for performance and recovery are sodium and water. Sodium is often looked at this horrible thing that should be avoided but the truth is sodium is not only necessary (you would literally die without salt) but it’s an electrolyte that aids in performance. If your sodium levels are low you will not be able to perform your best. Understand that your sodium input today is what you output the next day. Unless you are salt sensitive (about 5-10% of the population) or have a medical condition that requires you to keep sodium low there’s no need to limit it and you may even find you do better by adding in more. As far as water goes, well you probably know the importance already but dehydration is not going to help performance at all and without enough water your nutrient uptake will suffer as well. I think 80-120 of ounces per day is a good spot for most people, but it depends on many factors including how much you typically sweat (same with sodium.)

As far as supplements go there aren’t a lot that play a major role in performance or recovery. But if there was one I would pretty much universally recommend to any lifter it would be creatine monohydrate. Creatine has been shown time and time again to aid in muscle size, strength, and performance. Because creatine is a stored energy it doesn’t matter when you take it, only that you take it daily to saturate your muscle cells. If you’re going to take creatine aim for 3-5 grams daily. There is also whey protein but I don’t really even consider whey  a supplement, I consider it food. No matter what you want to call it though, it can be a great way to get your protein up if you struggle to eat enough, but it’s certainly not necessary.

Other than that there are a couple other things I want to briefly touch on here. If you want to perform your best and if muscle or strength are important to you there are a couple of pitfalls you’re going to want to avoid. You can’t be undereating or doing excessive amounts of cardio. Neither of these things are going to help you towards your goal. Yes, there are times when you’re going to decrease the amount you eat and/or increase your cardio to cut down on some of the fat, but it can’t be a perpetual thing. You should be spending MUCH more time working on building than you are dieting. Constant dieting patterns absolutely ruins people, not to mention what it does to your metabolism. That said I do think it’s good to keep some cardio in your routine as it does have benefits for things like heart health and even work capacity in the gym. But you can’t go out there training for marathons expecting to build muscle much less recover properly.

So these are some of my tips to use nutrition to your advantage to aid in recovery, perform your best in the gym, and get the most of your training. Keep in mind when it comes to recovery and performance there are more factors than JUST nutrition such as sleep, stress management, proper training protocols, etc. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment and I’ll be sure to get back to you!

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For more information from Colin download this free guide to help give you some direction. This will also put you on an email newsletter where you’ll receive daily emails with helpful advice.

Colin DeWaay holds a personal training and fitness nutrition specialist certification with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. He’s the owner of Colin DeWaay Training LLC, an online strength and nutrition consulting business that fully customizes training and nutrition programs for those interested in general fitness all the way up to advanced powerlifting programs. He specializes in helping people with a history of yoyo dieting create a more sustainable healthy lifestyle, improving metabolism through reverse dieting if necessary, and helping make binges a thing of the past by creating a healthy relationship with food utilizing flexible dieting. His goal is not to produce quick results, but to help produce realistic, sustainable results that last.

http://colindewaaytraining.com/

https://www.youtube.com/c/colindewaay

https://www.facebook.com/ColinDeWaayTraining/

Instagram – @colindewaay

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Filed under Guest Blog, Guest Blogs, My Lifting Log, Nutrition

Menopause, Weight Loss, and Training

This is a useful, informative post.  Please share it and save it for reference later.

My friend, Colin DeWaay, loves to read research more than I do, so I asked him to look for the science being done on how menopause changes how our bodies respond to weight training.  We also know there is something different about how we store fat and how long it takes to lose it.  Too often, menopause is discussed as if it were a disease -as if aging were a disease – which neither are because continuing to be alive is actually NOT a disease… (Oops – off my soapbox now.)  One thing that did not come up in the research, but that I strongly believe is an issue for us, is cortisol.   I believe there is a link between increased cortisol and menopause.  And I also believe cortisol may be increased by life stress that comes with being a female of a certain age with all sorts of adult responsibilities to juggle – and then add sleep-deprivation to that mix.   I suggest you look around online for more information about cortisol.  There is research out there about it, but maybe it’s not been specifically studied in combination with menopause very often?  I have seen it studied as a result of sleep disturbances… Hello?  Night sweats? ~ Tammy

 

I have to be honest. I’ve been dragging my feet writing this article for a long time. After my last blog about getting the most out of an online coach I actually planned on writing about weight loss for women in their 50’s. Then Tammy reached out to me wondering if I’d write about weight loss, muscle growth, etc. in menopausal women. So it only made sense, only one problem. As a 37-year-old male without an extensive background in this subject, who am I to tell you what to do?

Well I guess because it’s my job (my certification and the text books I’ve read cover this but it’s SO small) and I do have a large number of clients who fit this demographic. But at the end of the day all I can do is empathize and teach what I’ve discovered. I can’t know what it’s like or how it feels on a personal level, however, I want to help people the best I can, so let’s do this. (Side note even if you’re a women not even close to menopause, you could likely get a lot out of this article.)

So with that I set out to scour through PubMed to gather as much relevant information I could. After searching and searching, reading and reading, putting together as much data as I could, wanna know what I found? Well for one I think there’s a severe lack of data on this demographic, which is actually something I’ve noticed on my own. Whenever I get a unique problem with a client the first thing I do is try to find data to help give me answers. Rarely is there much out there in the way of menopausal women, which even researchers seem to agree with. (1)

The other thing I’ve found? If you’re a menopausal/postmenopausal woman, this stuff’s probably going to be tough…. Really tough. Probably not what you wanted to hear I’m sure, but don’t stop reading now. Even though it’s likely going to be more difficult for you than many others, it’s also more important than ever you get a handle on things. Even if the odds are stacked against you. Let’s discuss.

Due to many hormonal changes that occur during menopause, the risk of raising body fat increases significantly. Sitting around being inactive and eating whatever you want is a recipe for things to get worse in a hurry. With that comes the increased risk of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, at least partially due to increases of fat within the abdominal cavity (AKA visceral adipose tissue or VAT.)(2)  In a nutshell, research shows that post-menopausal women are at increased risk of cardiovascular diseases since VAT is considered a correlation and they are more prone to store fat in that area, even if total fat loss is the same during a weight reduction program. (3)

Another major player that hardly anyone ever talks about is the importance of minimizing loss of bone mineral density (BMD.) Likely due to significant drops in estrogen women in perimenopause might experience up to a 3% loss of BMD a year if they aren’t active or on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and can even carry on post menopause. This is why osteoporosis is such a problem in older females. Since the loss of BMD can be slowed with heavy resistance training, this is just one more reason to lift weights. For those who haven’t reached their upper 30’s yet (around the time women start experiencing a loss in BMD) it’s all the more reason to start heavy strength training NOW.

The good news? Aging does not appear to reduce the ability of our bodies to adapt to strength training. Improvements in BMD as well as strength, power, muscle mass and functional capabilities have been observed in older people participating in strength training programs. (4, 5, 6) Basically no matter where your starting point is or how old you are, you can make improvements. Just proof that it really never is too late to start.

Before I go on I’d like to say one quick thing about HRT, this gets thrown around a lot. This is NOT something I can suggest nor should anyone tell you whether you shouldn’t or shouldn’t go down that path. That is something for you and your doctor to discuss if it’s the right thing for you or not. I’ve heard of other trainers telling their clients they need to get HRT and that is NOT okay. I’m not, nor is any other trainer qualified to make that assessment.

Anyway, what do most experts recommend as an effective method to prevent obesity or reduce body fat during menopause? Well, diet and exercise of course. (7) One study took 439 overweight-obese postmenopausal sedentary women and assigned them into one of 4 groups. Basically there was a group that dieted only, exercised only, dieted and exercised and a control group. After 1 year not surprisingly the diet and exercise group did the best losing 10.8% of their body weight, followed by 8.5% for the diet group, and 2.4% for the exercise only group. (1)

As you can see fat loss is most definitely possible for postmenopausal women, it’s just likely results are going to be slower than you’d like. You MUST be okay with this, and focus on a plan you find to be sustainable. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, the time is going to pass anyway. The unfortunate truth is if you’re unhealthy now, it’s only going to get worse if you don’t do anything about it. This is why I said it’s more important than ever to get serious because the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle will pile up a lot faster when you become menopausal.

Again don’t get me wrong, I definitely empathize with you ladies. I really do. You were dealt a tough hand and I can’t pretend to know what it’s like. Set aside for a moment all the physiological reasons obtaining and maintaining a healthy body is likely more difficult, you have to add on all the factors that make training and staying mentally in the game tough. Things like hot flashes, difficulty sleeping, menstrual irregularity, lowered sex drive, mood swings/irritability, etc. Also dealing with the emotions that come with no longer being able to conceive and everything else that comes when your body changes on you. ALL of life’s stressors, mental and physical, add up and need to be factored in.

This stuff goes WAY beyond just physical change. You have every reason in the world to feel like it’s impossible. You have every right to feel like you should give up. But I’m telling you right now, DON’T.  You don’t have to be perfect, hell you shouldn’t even TRY to be perfect. I’d actually argue it’s more important to be more flexible at this stage. You have a lot of things to deal with and work around, so factor that all in. The worst thing you can do is go down the all or nothing path. Because all or nothing ALWAYS ends in nothing.

That said, now more than ever is it important to take care of yourself. Your body is fighting against you and you basically have two choices. Lay down and let it take you out, or fight back. Go ahead, feel your feelings, you can’t control how you feel and there is NOTHING wrong with the way you feel. But you CAN do something about what you do about it. I wouldn’t be doing you any good if I said “It’s okay, it’s going to be hard so go ahead and give up” and more importantly you don’t want to tell yourself that.

Time and time again people (much like Tammy herself) have shown that it absolutely can be done. Results may come slow, it may be difficult, but it’s literally life and death stuff here. Don’t take it lightly. Start slow, allow for sufficient recovery, make small changes, keep learning and getting better and if you need help by all means get help. Regardless, like Tammy always says, “Just keep showing up.” Remember, it may suck that it’s more difficult for you than others, but reality is reality and you can’t change it. The best thing you can do is deal with it from a place of acceptance. Otherwise you’ll just end up fighting yourself the whole way.

The last thing I’d like to say is if you are a woman who has yet to get to this stage of your life. Do yourself a favor and get started! As you can tell it’s only going to get more difficult and the sooner you can get ahead of things the easier and healthier you’ll be in the long-run. Nothing is more effective than prevention.

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If you ARE looking for a coach to help take the guess work out and hold you accountable I am accepting clients for training and/or nutrition help. Just head here and select the option you’d like.

If you’re looking for more information you can follow me on Facebook and you can also download this free guide to help give you some direction. This will also put you on my email newsletter where you’ll get daily emails for a little motivation, guidance and a kick in the rear from time to time. WARNING – I tell you what you NEED to hear and not what you WANT to hear. So if you’re sensitive and like to place blame instead of take action, you’ll definitely want to pass. But if you’re serious about taking responsibility and changing your life, you should love it.

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Filed under Cortisol, Guest Blog, Weight Loss

Guest Blogger Colin DeWaay: Training For Long-Term Results

The smartest way to train and/or diet is to do as little as is required to get results.  Don’t feel like you’re slacking- the body adapts and you will need to dig deeper at some point.  And eating a lot less or training a lot more will backfire and take you off track at some point.  With consistency and patience, you can reach your goals and find a nice balance to maintain your hard-earned health and new physical abilities.  I am a competitive bodybuilder, so I take the process a little farther, but the principles are the same.  However,  I don’t ever think that what I’m doing in the gym is any sort of “beast mode”.  I do what Coach Alberto programs for me to do each week.  Despite what my pictures may lead one to believe, I did not get younger as the years went by.  My joints and connective tissues are at least 54 years old – possibly older considering how creeky I feel some days!  My program is based on the principles my friend Colin describes in this article.  To read Colin’s other articles in this series, look under the “Guest Blog” category in the menu on the right. ~ Tammy

 

In my previous blog I went over some tips on how to get started with weight training if you are in the beginning stages. Today I want to go over some more advanced topics of training. This will be an article for you to reference back to once you’ve been training consistently for a handful of months and the “newbie gains” have started to slow.

As I previously mentioned when you’re new to training it doesn’t take a lot to start seeing some decent results from your training. Just show up consistently, do the work and your body is going to change (it’s that pesky consistency part that usually stops people from seeing any real results.)  So in the beginning life is good. You’re showing up, you’re building muscle and your body composition is changing. You just keep showing up and you’re rewarded for you efforts.

What happens though, when your body is no longer changing? Fast forward a year down the road, you keep working out hard but you’re just not seeing improvement. You are working just as hard as you were before, why aren’t you changing anymore? It’s because your body has adapted to the stressors you’ve given it. It can handle everything you throw at it with ease now, so it has no reason to adapt any further. (It’s also worth mentioning that results WILL slow down the longer you train, even if you are doing things “right.”)

You see, in order for your body to change it must adapt to what it’s doing. Yes, adaptation is a GOOD thing. Your body adapting to what you’re doing is what facilitates change. The thing is, once your body has adapted, it needs a new training stimulus to further advance. So in the beginning you want your total volume to be relatively low (volume is simply sets x reps x weight) and it should continually increase over time. This is called progressive overload which basically states that your body will not change unless it’s forced to adapt to a tension above what it’s currently used to. So for your body to continue to change over time you must be doing more volume over time as well.

Now volume is extremely important when it comes to building strength and muscle. It’s most likely the most important part of training, however, that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing that comes into play. Other things such as time under tension, metabolic stress and muscle damage are all factors for muscle-building. The problem is, many people place those things things ahead of total training volume and that’s a mistake.

For instance, a lot of people like training to failure on every set of exercise because it will create a lot of muscle damage and metabolic stress. While it’s true training to failure does have its place, if you do it too frequently, it will significantly reduce your training volume.  Just think about it.  Say you are doing 3 sets of 10 reps on bench press. Perhaps you can normally do about 100 lbs for 10 reps before failing. If you take your first set to failure and get all 10 reps and fail trying to get an 11th you will be really fatigued for you next set. So on your second set you may only get 6 reps. Now you’re extremely fatigued for your 3rd set and can only get 4. You’ve now done a total of 20 reps at 100 lbs for a total volume of 2000 lbs (remember volume is sets x reps x weight used so in this case it’s 3x20x100.)

Now let’s say instead of training to failure you leave a rep in the tank. You do your first set to 9 reps and since you haven’t fatigued yourself so bad you are able to get 9 reps for all three sets. Now you’ve done 2700 lbs of volume, 700 lbs more than when you were going to failure or 35% more total volume. Certainly with training to failure you’ve created more stress and muscle damage, but you’ve significantly sacrificed the most important aspect of training to do so – volume. This is why I don’t like to put a limit on rest periods as well. Longer rest periods have actually been shown to produce greater results in hypertrophy (essentially muscle-building) than shorter rest periods and I’d personally contribute that to being able to move more total volume with the extra rest. (1) Obviously not everyone can spend several hours in the gym nor do you have to, but the point is volume is important and it’s not smart to sacrifice volume where you can help it.

One question I get frequently is if volume is so important and is the key to strength and muscle gains, why wouldn’t you just go out and do as much volume as possible? Quite simply it’s because if your body isn’t used to high volume, the chance for injury becomes high. Plus if you start with high volume, even if you get lucky and don’t get injured, see tremendous progress, but now you’ve set your volume threshold high.  To see further progress, you’ll have to do even more volume to see better results again.

So while you want to continue to see volume increase, you want to progress at a reasonable rate. Basically, the less volume you can do while still seeing results the better off you’ll be down the road. (I hope you’ve been paying attention through this series because that’s been a pretty common theme throughout.)

This is why I strongly suggest keeping some sort of training log so you can look back at what you’ve done and make sure you’re continuing to see progress going in the right direction. Plus, it’s fun to look back at how far you’ve come. Especially when you inevitably get to a point where you feel like things aren’t working, it can be a real boost in morale to see how much progress you really have made.

Pic for Blog 6

Okay so that’s the article for today. The main takeaway from this should be that in order to continue building muscle over time you have to continually do more work over time. Your body will adapt to what you give it, and if you never give it a reason to adapt to a new stress it will never have reason to make further change. If what you’re doing right now is producing results by all means keep it up, just realize that eventually it won’t be enough.

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If you are looking for more information from me you can follow me on Facebook and you can also download this free guide to help give you some direction. This will also put you on my email newsletter where you will get daily emails for a little motivation, guidance, and possibly a small kick in the rear from time to time…  Warning – I tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. So if you are sensitive you may want to pass. But if you’re serious about changing your life and taking ACTION, you should love it.

 

Lastly if you’re ready for change RIGHT NOW and want to take the guess work out of it, I am accepting clients for both training and/or nutrition help. If you’re looking for coaching just head here and choose the option you would like. I’d love to help you reach your goals!

 

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Filed under Guest Blog, Guest Blogs

Getting Started with Weight Training – Guest Blogger Colin DeWaay

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If you read my last blog you understand the importance of a good strength training routine when it comes to losing weight and that building muscle can be your best friend. However, if you’re new to training you might be wondering where exactly you should start. So that, my friend, is exactly what we’re going to talk about today.

The first myth I want to dispel right away is that in order to see progress you have to beat your body to a bloody pulp and leave the gym crawling out on your hands and knees leaving a trail of your own filth along the way. It’s just not true, and likely counterproductive. Especially as a true beginner, the truth is you can actually do very little (and should) to see results. If you’ve never lifted before, to start out you can just show up to the gym, do a set or two of a handful of exercises a few days per week and you’ll be surprised just how well it will work. Those of us in the business call that “newbie gains” and trust me, anyone who’s lifted a long time is jealous of how easy you can see progress!

As you get more experienced it takes more complex and systematic approaches to training but as a beginner the training response is so powerful that literally all you have to do is show up, do some work, be consistent and you’ll see progress. This is not the time to look for complex or extreme programs, you don’t need it. As a beginner the emphasis should be on building good habits and work ethics, learning proper form/technique and finding something you enjoy. It’s later on down the road you’ll need to worry about things like periodization and progressive overload (which you probably have no clue what they mean nor do you need to at this point, but I will explain in the future.)

If you are totally new to training, start small. Do something manageable that you KNOW you can do each and every week. If that means lifting two days per week, doing 4 exercises and just a couple of sets of each one, do that. You want to gain confidence and momentum and if you start off with a program that requires a lot more work than you’re used to chances are you’ll become discouraged and you’ll be much more likely to quit. Get in there and get some wins, show yourself that you can do it, then start adding more work after you’ve done it consistently for a while.

Keep it simple, make it enjoyable and don’t get caught up on picking the “perfect” exercises. Also don’t worry about performing the movements perfect either. Don’t get me wrong you’ll want to learn proper technique for sure, but you’ll never master it before ever starting. So get in there, do the work and learn as you go. People who wait to have all the knowledge (no such thing as knowing everything) before they start will struggle. In fact doing too much research ahead of time will likely overwhelm you and keep you from even attempting to start. Step one is just showing up and starting, doing ANYTHING.

Where exactly you should start and what you should do unfortunately is not something I can tell you with generic advice in a blog. That is highly dependent on each individual and their training history amongst other things. But what you can do is use the above advice to try and set a starting point for yourself and just make sure you keep working. While there are certainly more optimal ways to do things there is NOTHING more important than consistency and adherence to your plan. You can do a lot of things “wrong” and still get great results, as long as you don’t keep quitting. Maybe it’s possible but I’ve yet to see anyone who worked hard for multiple years at something without quitting that didn’t get some pretty darn good results. There is a time and place to try and be as “perfect” as possible, but most of the time the most important part is just showing up. Oversimplification? Possibly, but I dare you to try it and prove me wrong…

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If you are looking for more information from me you can follow me on Facebook and you can also download this free guide to help give you some direction. This will also put you on my email newsletter where you will get daily emails for a little motivation, guidance, and possibly a small kick in the rear from time to time…  Warning – I tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. So if you are sensitive you may want to pass. But if you’re serious about changing your life and taking ACTION, you should love it.

 

Lastly if you’re ready for change RIGHT NOW and want to take the guess work out of it, I am accepting clients for both training and/or nutrition help. If you’re looking for coaching just head here and choose the option you would like. I’d love to help you reach your goals!

 

 

 

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Max Lift Testing Results

Took me nine weeks to get through the last “8 week” cycle.  Such is life.  (The new one is getting off to a slow start, too, thanks to a crappy head cold.) At the end of this last cycle, I tested the main lifts in my program with AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible) sets with a certain weight.  From that, my current 1 rep max (1RM) is calculated and entered into the next spreadsheet sent to me by my coach.  Each spreadsheet cycle is adjusted based on what we want to accomplish during that cycle.  During the last cycle, the goal was to at least maintain strength during a mini-cut, hopefully build some lean mass and get stronger.  My personal goal was to improve strength on my bench press.  That lift has not been progressing at the same rate as all the others.

Results…

Leg Press

This is a hard one to compare over time because I’ve used different machines in different gyms.  And I’ve worked on improving range of motion, so I’ve had to start over a few times.   But I’ve tested on the machine I’m using now a couple of times, so I guess this is a lifetime PR on this machine, right?

Dec 20, 2015: 1RM = 563 lbs

Feb 26, 2016: 1RM = 609 lbs   Increased 7.6%

RDL

A bar with weights.  Easy to compare.  I set a lifetime PR with this one.  This lift just keeps getting stronger, but I suspect I’m going to hit a limit with it soon because of physics.  My bodyweight isn’t going to go up, so the leverages have to have a limit, right?

Dec 22, 2015: 1RM = 264

Feb 28, 2016: 1RM = 270  Increased 6%

Bench Press

Dec 21, 2015: 1RM = 124

Feb 25, 2016: 1RM = 126 Increased 1.6%

Disappointed.  This lift was stronger back in May 2014.  My 1RM then was 127.  This lift just doesn’t progress like the others.  And I lose it and have to start over after each show prep.  So to test this time and miss my lifetime PR by one pound was frustrating.  I actually tested this lift twice, once at the beginning of the week and a second time the following weekend when I had more rest.  Same result, so it’s real.

HS Shoulder Press

I use this machine for my main shoulder work because the impingement issue in my right shoulder makes free weight work feel unstable.  The improvement on this lift was a surprise.  I did what I needed to do with the AMRAP set – and it was easier than it should have been.  So I added weight and did another AMRAP.

Dec 23 2015: 1RM = 45

Feb 28 2016: 1RM = 52 lbs   Increased 15.5%

Barbell Row

Like the RDL, this lift progresses predictably. I hit another lifetime PR with it.   And also like the RDL, I think there is a limit coming up soon.

Dec 26, 2015: 1RM = 169

Feb 26, 2016: 1RM = 186 lbs  Increased 10%

Pulldown

Like the leg press, this one is hard to compare over time because I’ve used different pulley machines in different gyms.  On paper, it looks like it has regressed, but I know that’s not true.  I did use the same pulley machine for these two tests.

Dec 23, 2015: 1RM = 156

Feb 29, 2016: 1RM = 163 Increased 4.5%

 

I passed all my tests.  Basically lifetime PRs in everything that I can compare over time, except the bench.  But it’s progressing and I’ll get there.  And I’m not a power lifter.  It’s just my ego.

It’s worth noting that I’m basically healthy.  My coach has done some smart programming – both in the gym and with my food.  He also makes a point to support me when I’ve decided to back off from something I’m supposed to do if I’m not feeling it.  (I assume he knows I will push when that feels appropriate, too.)  54 years old, scoliosis, lifting heavy things, and the only issues I have are minor.  A little tendonitis here and there.  I’ve got an old quad pull that likes to act up every so often.  I respect these things.   I listen to them.   If something feels funky, I pull back.  I’ve learned my lesson with that.  I have been “beast mode” and ended up getting hurt, nursing something for months – years.  Nope.  Not worth it.  It’s true I need heavier weights to progress, but not all the time.  One more rep is progression.  An extra set is progression.  If I had completed one more rep in that bench press set, I would have set my PR.  But it wasn’t going up easily enough from the bottom, and had I grinded it at the weakest part of my range of motion, I could have injured my right shoulder that has impingement issues.  Not. Worth. It.  I know what PRs feel like when I’m strong enough to get them with good form.  I also know I’m not competing with anyone – I’m setting up the next spreadsheet cycle.  It’s ok to take some more time to get stronger.  Even if I hit it, I’d want to set another one next time, so it doesn’t matter.

Made a video of the lifts.  Sorry, no narration.  I’m sick today, so I’m saving my voice.  Had to teach with a bullhorn on Friday.

 

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Lift to Lose Fat – Guest Blogger, Colin DeWaay

 

Colin continues his series for Lifting My Spirits with this Part 4 – Training.  This is an excellent resource for those of you who were asking me whether you should lose weight first and then lift, or start lifting right away.  I’m posting this one with my before/after picture because I didn’t start to see the results I wanted until I started weight training in 2010

Tammy - before and after 8x10 - Copy

In my first blog for Tammy I discussed why the majority of people who lose weight struggle to keep it off long-term and gave some tips on how to keep the weight coming off by avoiding plateaus. In the second blog we talked about flexible dieting and the importance of avoiding super restrictive diets. Last time we talked about how to calculate your macros and I gave you a couple of options for tracking them. So now that I’ve covered much of the nutrition side of things for weight loss, I’d like to move onto training. Don’t you worry though – there is still plenty to talk about with regards to nutrition in the future.

Just like there are many misconceptions with regards to dieting, the same goes for the best way to burn fat from training. It seems most people think the only way to drop the weight is to spend hours running on a treadmill. But these people tend to run and run but get nowhere, literally.

While steady state cardio does tend to burn more calories while actually working out, it can’t hold a candle to the powers of strength training in the long run. See with steady state cardio (IE. Jogging) once you’re done with the exercise and your heartrate returns back to normal you’re done burning calories for the most part. But with strength training and other forms of interval training you get what’s called EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.) With EPOC your body continues to burn calories while at a resting state as it tries to recover and repair itself from what you just put it through. This effect can happen for a few hours up to even close to two days depending on many factors. (1)

The other benefit to strength training is adding lean body mass to your frame. This not only helps with body composition (“toning” is the combination of muscle mass plus lower body fat) but increases in muscle mass helps your body burn calories even in a rested state. While some have severely overblown the affect additional muscle mass has on your daily expenditure, each additional pound of muscle could help burn roughly an additional 6-10 calories per day. (2) While it’s not a lot, every little bit helps right?

Now before you start worrying about getting “too big or bulky” I’d like to squash that right away. Trust me, people spend years TRYING to get “too big” and can’t. I don’t think anyone in the history of time has ever “accidentally” built too much muscle. Plus less be honest, if that scenario ever really did happen, could you just train less then? Anyway especially for women, who have about one tenth the testosterone of men, they’ll have a much harder time adding that extra muscle. Honestly for most people to get the results they want, I encourage them to do everything they can to TRY and build too much muscle.

Okay you get it, muscle = good. Strength training is better than cardio for fat loss. But should you be doing cardio at all? Well I’ll say this: Some cardio for general cardiovascular health is never a BAD idea, as long as it’s not extreme. However, honestly at least in the beginning the less cardio you can do the better. Remember how I previously talked about eating as many calories as possible while still losing weight so you have room to make adjustments when things stall? Cardio works similarly. You want to do as little as possible while still losing weight for the same reason. This way when things stall you have more options to get it going again. You can take away calories, you can add in cardio to supplement your weight training. You have options. But if you go low cal and do a bunch of cardio right off the bat, what are you going to do when you hit a plateau? You can only take away so many calories and do so much cardio.

The other thing to think about with regards to cardio is what kind to do. Once again I’m going to pick on poor steady state cardio. Sorry, it’s just not a very efficient use of your time! Perhaps you’ve heard of something called HIIT? It stands for high intensity interval training. This has been shown to be more effective than it’s steady state counterpart while allowing you to burn more calories in less time. (3, 4) It does, however, require some intense work and can be tough for some individuals to perform.

Basically you perform extremely intense exercise for short intervals mixed with a period of rest. This could be done by sprinting, biking, car pushes, sled drags, prowler pushes, etc. The point is you put forth maximum effort for a short period, maybe 20-30 seconds and then do a little active rest like walking until you feel recovered and do it again. Typically 3-5 minute rest periods are good for most people. I see a lot of people make the mistake of doing things like 30 seconds on and off, but chances are they aren’t putting in the maximum effort required to get the most of this training or they wouldn’t be able to go again in 30 seconds. If you can carry a conversation at all after your interval, chances are it wasn’t intense enough.

You can also combine the best of both worlds so to speak. High intensity interval resistance training has been shown to be very effective for additional calorie burn from EPOC as well as fat oxidation. (5) While I would approach this similarly as to save this type of work for further down the road, it can be a good option for anyone who has time restraints in the gym. If you need to get in and get out, working on strength training with very short rest periods can be an effective training method.

With all of this said there is one caveat to it all (there always is, isn’t there?) I’m basically telling you what I see as the most optimal way to go about burning fat. But what’s optimal isn’t always what’s best for each individual. If you absolutely hate one form of exercise and love another one, you’re going to have a lot better success doing the thing you love. Regardless of how “optimal” something is (this goes for both training and nutrition) the #1 factor in seeing results is adherence to the plan, being consistent. If you aren’t going to stick to something, it’ll never work. There is nothing wrong with steady state cardio so to speak, it’s just less efficient for both fat loss and body composition. But if that’s what you love and what you’ll continue to do, by all means do what you love.

So that’s all I have for this article. Not even sure what I’ll talk about next month, but don’t you worry, I’ll be back!

 

Also if you are looking for more information from me you can follow me on Facebook and you can also download this free guide to help give you some direction. This will also put you on my email newsletter where you will get daily emails for a little motivation, guidance, and possibly a small kick in the rear from time to time…  Warning – I tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. So if you are sensitive you may want to pass. But if you’re serious about changing your life and taking ACTION, you should love it.

Lastly if you’re ready for change RIGHT NOW, I am accepting clients for both training and/or nutrition help. If you’re looking for coaching just head here and choose the option you would like. I’d love to help you reach your goals!

 

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Filed under Guest Blog, Weight Loss