comment Add Comment

13 Common Fitness Questions Answered

For those of you who don’t me, what I stand for is quite simple.

Train hard, eat clean, be consistent, take responsibility for where you are in life, and don’t be afraid to fail.

It’s definitely a process that requires work on a daily basis.  Even I have to take it one step at a time or else I get overwhelmed and feel like everything is impossible.

Training can be hard work with all the squats, deadlifts, burpees, pull-ups, and sprints.  Combine that with trying to eat clean, get enough sleep, minimize stress, and you got yourself a full time job!

Continue reading “13 Common Fitness Questions Answered”

comment Add Comment

The Great Debate: Russian vs. American Swings

I find the fitness industry so ridiculous sometimes it’s comical.

It doesn’t matter where you turn, there is some kind of controversy or drama.  It’s can be more cliquey than high school sometimes, I swear.

Continue reading “The Great Debate: Russian vs. American Swings”

comment Add Comment

5 Common Mistakes that are Ruining Your Power Cleans

Now, before we get started, I just want to say that you’re already leaps and bounds ahead of 90% of gym-goers due to the simple fact that you even want to dabble with the Olympic lifts.  As you already know, Olympic lifts aren’t for the average Joe, they’re for the strong, athletic type that’s after serious gains.

Continue reading “5 Common Mistakes that are Ruining Your Power Cleans”

comment 2 Comments

How to Improve Your Pull-up Game!

I’ve had the luxury to help hundreds of people over the course of my career.  For those that were committed and took my advice seriously, they made tremendous gains.  That’s right, not everyone that crossed my path transformed their bodies into the perfect picture of health.  That’s OK though, not everyone is willing to do what’s necessary to get the results they want.

Continue reading “How to Improve Your Pull-up Game!”

comment Add Comment

17 Bodyweight Exercises for Optimum Strength and Conditioning

Anyone that knows me knows that I love to throw a barbell around.  Lifting weight is my sanctuary.  There is something to be said about being able to move your bodyweight though.

The strength required to perform high skill bodyweight exercises is not to be underestimated.  Not only that, you can actually get pretty jacked without any additional resistance.

Continue reading “17 Bodyweight Exercises for Optimum Strength and Conditioning”

comment Add Comment

17 Training Mistakes that are Killing Your Gains!

I’m no stranger to failure.  I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the multiple mistakes I’ve made over the years.  A little over 8 years ago, I had the opportunity to take my first crack at self employment.

A friend and I opened a gym together thinking that we knew it all.  Boy, were we ever wrong.

Continue reading “17 Training Mistakes that are Killing Your Gains!”

comment Add Comment

How to Deadlift Like a Boss!

If you’re looking for a quick fix stop reading now.  If you’re looking for a secret exercise that’s going to add 50lbs to all your lifts then this blog isn’t for you.  If you’re looking for someone to hold your hand and do the work for you, I’m sure there’s a daycare center in your local area that will meet your needs.

I’m looking for people who want to learn the most effective ways to become better and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.  I need people with that “wax on, wax off” mentality that “Danielson” had in the Karate Kid.  No excuses, no whining, just shut up, do the work and have faith in the process. I’ll never lead you down the wrong path as it’s in my best interest to provide you with all the tools you need to be successful.

Now, let’s get down to business.  If you’re still reading at this point, it means you are serious about making serious gains and eager to start waxing some cars (Mr. Miyagi was wise beyond his years).

waxonwaxoff_3986

you need that “wax on/wax off” mentality

The topic of discussion today is the mighty deadlift.

For anyone that is trying to pack on serious muscle and get as strong as possible, it only makes sense to deadlift and deadlift WELL!  When performed correctly and when your body is dialed in, no other exercise will allow you to lift as much weight as a deadlift.  Make no mistake about it, the deadlift may not be a highly technical lift but it gets butchered more often than not for a number of reasons including:

  • starting with the hips too low
  • initiating the lift with arms instead of the legs
  • rounding of the lower back
  • trying to squat the weight up
  • weak hip extension

These are just a few reasons why so many people struggle with deadlifts and end up with all kinds of injuries.  You aren’t going to be another victim though, you are going to be the envy of all your boys at the gym when they see the kind of weight you’re gonna be moving.

To become a master of the deadlift, there are some key areas you need to strengthen and develop including:

  • Posterior chain strength – The lower back, glutes and hamstrings need to be strong as titanium if you want a big deadlift.
  • Grip strength – Pulling big weight means you need need to have a strong grip to hold on to that S.O.B.!
  • Upper back strength – Often neglected, upper back strength is critical to a strong lockout.
  • Hip hinge ability – A solid and efficient hip hinge is what separates the men from the boys.
  • Grit – To move big weight, you can’t have a casual attitude.  You need to be able to dig deep and lift like your life depends on it.

To be a strong deadlifter, your technique should also be solid and effortless.  You shouldn’t have to think too hard about your body position and what muscles you are using.  Getting lots of practice at lighter loads will help to refine your technique until it just becomes automatic regardless of the weight.

Here are a few quick tips to perfect your deadlift form:

  • keep your feet about shoulder width apart or slightly wider
  • keep your hands just outside of your feet
  • push your knees against the inside of your arms to help activate your hips
  • look down and slightly forward
  • pull the “slack out of the bar” before initiating the lift – this helps to engage the lats
  • keep your hips above parallel with tension on the hamstrings
  • lock your arms and flex your triceps.
  • initiate the lift by pressing your feet into the floor and pulling simultaneously
  • focus on using your hamstrings and glutes to extend your hips at the top of the movement.
  • breathe out at the top of the movement.

Check out the video below to see what deadlifting like a boss looks like.

[youtube id=”_zCklkqWVp8″]

As well as refining your technique, there are also a number of exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles used during a deadlift.  These accessory movements, as they’re sometimes called, are just as important as the deadlift itself if you want to move big weight.  Here are some really effective accessory exercises that will help you build that brute strength that is so necessary for big deadlifts.

Bent over barbell rows – This exercise is one of the best exercises for upper back strength and muscle development.  This will strengthen your lockout at the top of the movement.  3-4 sets of 8-10 reps will do the trick.

[youtube id=”w7SA8hhF0-M”]

Russian kettlebell swings – The kettlebell swing is phenomenal for reinforcing the hip hinge.  The swing requires you to explosively extend the hips using power from the glutes and hamstrings making this a natural carryover to the deadlift.  The key is to use a relatively heavy kettlebell and swing it with lots of power to really strength that posterior chain.  The Russian swing is the preferred option since it shifts the focus more onto the lower body rather than the shoulders with the American swing.  Try 6-8 sets of 20 at the end of your workout and let me know how your hammies feel the next morning!

[youtube id=”mki__kqYxAw”]

Farmer’s walks – There’s no doubt a strong deadlift requires a strong grip.  Sometimes that can be the limiting factor when you start to approach failure.  Farmer’s walks are hands down the best way to toughen up your grip.  Mix it up with heavier loads for shorter distances and moderate loads for longer distance to build more endurance.  Never let grip strength be the reason you miss a lift again.

Glute/Ham raises – This is a badass exercise.  I’ll warn you, it ain’t for newbies.  Lifting 75-80% of your bodyweight with just your glutes and hamstrings takes some serious strength.  Elite powerlifters and sprinters swear by this movement.  Start slow and try some negatives first until you can build up the strength to do full reps.

Deficit Deadlifts – To increase the difficulty of any exercise, simply increase the range of motion of that exercise.  Deadlifting from a deficit will increase the eccentric loading of the low back, glutes, and hamstrings forcing them to contract with more force.  You don’t want to go quite as heavy when working from a deficit but you really want to focus on keeping neutral spine and maintaining tension on the posterior chain.  Reduce your load by 10-20% when working from a deficit.  Throw these in every couple of weeks to shock the body and keep things interesting.  Try 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps.

deficitdeads

a couple of inches can make a world of difference

Hill Sprints – Does deadlifting make you a better sprinter or does sprinting help you to become a better deadlifter?  Another case of the chicken and the egg I suppose. One thing’s for sure, deadlifting and sprinting go hand in hand.  Sprinting is another great way to build strong glutes and hamstrings.  Just another reason to quit jogging and build some impressive strength.  Add in some workouts dedicated to sprinting and power development and watch your numbers go through the roof!

sprinting-runner

sprinting is excellent for the glutes and hams!

As you can see, the key to deadlifting like a boss is developing a strong posterior chain, grip strength, and upper back strength.  Of course, good technique will go a long way as well.  Getting lots of practice, build strength with these accessory exercises and you’ll be pulling double your bodyweight in no time!

cranekick

You are now ready to do battle!

If you have any other questions about deadlifts, feel free to drop a comment below.

Don’t forget to subscribe below to get your FREE 6 Week training program and Special Nutrition Report!

 

 

comment Add Comment

9 Ways to Break Through Stubborn Training Plateaus!

So it’s Monday and it’s bench day – naturally.  You’re happier than a 9 year old boy at Disneyland.  You get to the gym and immediately head over to your favorite bench.  You feel pretty good and you think today could finally be the day you set a new record.  You start with a couple of light warm up sets to get the juices flowing before you start to add weight to the bar.

Continue reading “9 Ways to Break Through Stubborn Training Plateaus!”

comment Add Comment

What I Learned from the 2015 Crossfit Open…

The 2015 Crossfit Open is officially over and was it ever an eye opener! The competition was fierce and the workouts were humbling to say the least. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Crossfit Open, it’s a worldwide competition to find the fittest man and woman on Earth (believe it or not, there is no other contest to determine this).  It’s a 3 stage process that includes the Open, Regionals, and then the Crossfit Games.

I’ve been competing in the Open since it’s inception in 2011.  As a fitness professional who is passionate about training and always enjoyed some good, healthy competition, this was and still is a natural fit for me.  I know there’s a lot of pundits out there that turn their nose up at Crossfit, but if Crossfit can get over 200,000 people worldwide to participate in this thing they must be doing something right.  Any fitness enthusiast who appreciates elite athletic performances should take a closer look at what is happening in the Crossfit community.  There were some absolutely mind-blowing performances during this year’s Open that would make even Stevie Wonder do a double take!

The Open is a 5 week process that consists of 5 different workouts with one workout being performed each week.  Each workout presented a different challenge and targeted different aspects of one’s overall fitness.  Absolute strength, relative strength, muscular endurance, and aerobic/anaerobic conditioning are some of the main elements that are tested across various exercises and time domains (i.e. long workouts vs. short workouts).  As someone who enjoys being challenged and always looking for different ways to get the best results, I was able to learn quite a few lessons from this year’s Open.

Here’s what I learned from each workout:

Workout 15.1/15a – For the first time ever in the history of the Open, there was a 2 part workout. Part 1 (15.1), being a traditional 9 minute AMRAP (as many rounds/reps as possible) of 15 toes to bar/10 deadlifts (115#)/5 snatch (115#) followed immediately by 15.2 – 6 minutes to establish a 1RM clean and jerk.

15.1 was a true test of core strength and muscular endurance with toes to bar being the limiting factor in this workout.  You needed to be able to perform this exercise in high volume if you wanted to separate yourself from the rest of the field (assuming you had no issue with 115# deadlifts and snatches).  The ability to move one’s body through this range of motion at high intensity requires a degree of core strength that no amount of situps or crunches could ever duplicate.  For all you meatheads out there, add this exercise to your repertoire to build a titanium core.

15.1a was curveball to say the least.  Traditional thinking would lead anyone to believe that testing a 1Rm max under a state of fatigue would be completely ridiculous.  How can anyone expect to lift anything close to their max if they’ve just completely exhausted themselves with 9 minutes of some crazy bodyweight/barbell complex?  The truth of the matter is that most participants were able to hit 90%,  if not more, of their 1RM – myself included.  Whether it’s a combination of adrenaline from being in a competitive environment and conditioning your body to do anything at any given time, maximal strength can still be expressed under a reasonable amount of fatigue.  In no domain other than Crossfit would this type of performance ever be revealed.  Who says strength needs to come before conditioning?

[youtube id=”7bwuc_bsrpI”]

Workout 15.2 – This workout was a repeat from 2014 that included a challenging couplet of overhead squats and chest to bar pullups.  You had 3 minutes to complete 2 rounds of 10 overhead squats (95#) and 10 chest to bar pullups, the next 3 minutes you to had complete 2 rounds of 12 reps of each movement and the rep scheme kept increasing by 2 reps until you could not  complete the reps within the 3 minute period.

Can you say “Pullup City!” This workout definitely epitomizes Crossfit with its high demand for pullup capacity.  Kipping or butterfly pullups go without saying if you expected to do well in this workout.  Much like 15.1, the barbell movement was not the limiting factor unless you really struggle with overhead squats.

There’s always been a lot of debate over the value of kipping and butterfly pullups. Here’s the deal, if you want to do more work in less time then kipping/butterflying is a must.  If you simply want to get strong and build more muscle then you can get by without ever learning to kip or butterfly.  Having said that, the ability to kip or butterfly can help you squeeze out a few extra reps if you are working to failure on any given set.  This will lead to more time under tension putting greater stress on your lats, biceps and forearms which can ultimately lead to increases in strength and muscle mass.

Making sure you have a solid base of strict pullup strength is key before progressing to kipping or butterfly in order to reduce the risk of shoulder injuries.  Kipping/butterfly pullups also make a traditionally strength based exercise more metabolic because of the speed and volume that they can be performed.  This movement definitely isn’t for everyone, but for the stronger, more athletic gym rats this exercise will definitely add shock value to your training.

[youtube id=”VfqwfgnI6cA”]

Workout 15.3 – This was a workout that separated the men from the boys.  For the first time, there was a workout that started with muscle ups.  It was a 14 minute AMRAP of 7 muscle ups/50 wall balls/100 double unders.

High skill gymnastics, muscular endurance, and aerobic capacity were put to the test on this one.  Being technically proficient in all 3 movements was important as there was a small degree of “interference” in this workout.  Interference is when the same muscle groups are being used across multiple movements.  In traditional strength and conditioning workouts, this could be referred to as “pre-exhaustion,” or “contrast training” and has many benefits but in Crossfit workouts, this is suicide.  Being efficient would reduce the amount of energy used and muscle fatigue throughout the workout.  There was no heavy barbell in this workout so absolute strength was not a factor.

The ability to perform high skill movements at a steady yet fast pace are commendable feats of human performance.  This workout really gave new meaning to energy system training.

[youtube id=”5_s_8bT1Qf0″]

Workout 15.4 – Yet another test of high skill bodyweight exercise in this couplet of handstand pushups and power cleans.  This 8 minute AMRAP looked something like this:

3 handstand pushups

3 power cleans (185#)

6 handstand pushups

3 power cleans (185#)

9 handstand pushups

3 power cleans (185#)

12 handstand pushups

6 power cleans (185#)

15 handstand pushups

6 power cleans (185#)

18 handstand pushups

6 power cleans (185#)

etc

In the world of Crossfit, the handstand pushup is the new pushup.  This workout was a great test and really pointed out my weakness (well one of them at least).  The power cleans were moderately heavy but again not the limiting factor in this workout.  I’m not quite sure if there is any direct substitute for the handstand pushup as it presents its own unique set of challenges.  Just do more handstand pushups I suppose.

One thing is for sure, no amount of shoulder pressing and push pressing can prepare you for the stability and strength required in the handstand pushup.

[youtube id=”4gwxPOAjYOo”]

Workout 15.5 – No Crossfit competition is complete without the infamous thruster.  In the grand finale, we had a fairly straightforward yet lethal couplet of rowing and thrusters.  For time: 27/21/15/9 row for calories/95# thrusters.

Nothing crazy here, just go hard and fight through the pain.  I’ve always said the thruster is pound for pound the toughest barbell exercise and is utterly destructive when paired with anything.  In a true test of grit and pain tolerance, this workout symbolizes what people fear most about Crossfit.  “A wolf in sheep’s clothing” if you will, this workout left the biggest, strongest and baddest flat on their backs.

[youtube id=”S_1ctfuSYfc”]

After this thorough analysis, there are a few major areas that I need to address to have greater success in the future including:

Shoulder mobility – I’ve always had strong and stable shoulders however, I’ve never had the greatest shoulder mobility, specifically external rotation.  This has always hindered my thrusters and clean and jerks.  A long and concerted effort is needed to improve this and will greatly enhance my movement efficiency.

Muscular endurance – There have been many cases during workouts where my muscles will give up before my lungs.  A combination of muscle stiffness and larger muscles makes it difficult for them to work for extended periods of time.  Handstand pushups and chest to bar pullups were a perfect example of this.  I do lots of mobility work but more is needed along with some soft tissue work to break down my sticky muscle fibers.

Lose weight – I’m fortunate that my weight does not fluctuate too much throughout the year (210lbs) but my ability to pack on muscle easily doesn’t work in my favor so much when it comes to high volume bodyweight exercises like muscle ups and handstand pushups.  To be more competitive, I’m going to need to shed a few pounds of muscle.  Time to dust off my running shoes and start jogging!

Overtraining – 3 out of the last 5 years, I’ve come down with a cold either in the first or second week of the Open.  It could be purely coincidence, the time of year, or possibly that my body was in an overtrained state that was made vulnerable through intense competition.  In the future, I need to keep a closer eye on my training volume and intensity leading up to the Open to ensure adequate recovery.  There’s nothing more frustrating than to train hard all year only to have your body break down right when you need it most.

Pacing – Believe it or not, Crossfit workouts require a lot of strategy and pacing to be successful.  Very rarely is it like a drag race where you just put your foot on the gas and hope your engine doesn’t explode before you cross the finish line.  Over the years, I’ve learned how to pace myself better through workouts but this is always an area that can be improved by getting to really understand the limits of my body.

Programming – The most successful people always have someone to model themselves after.  The best athletes have coaches to guide and monitor their progress.  I’ve always taken things from various coaches and made it my own and I’ve had reasonable success. The problem is, it’s too easy to systematically leave gaping holes in my training.   I would like to see how my performance would change if I follow some other successful programming.  Hey, even the best barber needs to get his hair cut by someone else, right?

The fitness game is constantly evolving and the limits of human performance are continually being stretched to new thresholds each and every day.  As someone who tries to maintain a panoramic view of the fitness industry, Crossfit has done a bang up job of getting more people off their asses and training with some intensity while defying what we think we are physically capable of.   I know my training regimen over the next few months will be inspired by my experience in this year’s Open.  With nothing to lose and everything to gain, I’m excited to see how the next few months shake out. “Do more work in less time.”  I’m still shockingly impressed by the genius of this concept.

Want more great articles? Subscribe below and get your FREE copy of the Pure Payne Method and Special Nutrition Report.

 

 

 

comment Add Comment

7 MORE Habits of Highly Fit People…

I don’t need to tell you that exercise is a good thing and everybody should do it in some way, shape or form.  I also don’t need to tell you that if you exercise, you’ll probably start to look and feel better.  What isn’t so obvious though, (or at least to 90% of people who don’t get the results they want) are the habits and character traits of those who achieve their goals.

In Part 1, I only scratched the surface with the 7 habits of highly fit people.  I’m going to dig a little deeper and give you some more insight into what separates the really fit from those who just “want to be really fit.” I’m a firm believer that both your attitude and performance in the gym are highly correlated to how you conduct yourself in everyday life.  Are you always late? Do you do things to the best of your ability or simply to get it over with? Do you look for ways to be more efficient or do you just cut corners? It doesn’t matter if I’m talking about training, work, or any other part of your life, these are questions you should always be asking yourself.

It has been said that with the proper mindset, anything can be achieved.  The problem is, most people are too preoccupied with irrelevant bullshit, put unrealistic expectations on themselves, and make working out more dramatic than a reality TV show! Waiting for the “perfect” time,  trying to find the “perfect” program, or expecting huge results before you’ve put in any real work are just a few surefire ways to be back on the couch with a beer in one hand and a bag of Doritos in the other.  It’s time to wake up and smell the organic, black, freshly brewed, no cream, no whip coffee.  If you want to be successful, you need to model yourself after successful people who are already where you want to be.  Here are 7  MORE habits that will help you get your shit together and get some real results:

1. Willing to make sacrifices – It’s funny how hard it is for people to just buckle down and make a commitment to something.  I’m not sure if it’s fear, laziness or a deadly combination of the two, but people can find any excuse not to face reality.  We can talk ourselves into or out of pretty much anything.  The people that are in the best shape have no problem taking action and making the necessary sacrifices until they have achieved their goal.  Work, school, kids, TV and partying on the weekends are all secondary to getting the results they want.  Unless you win the lottery, you’re probably going to be working for a little while so you might as well throw that excuse out the window.  At the end of the day, when you can accept that the only thing standing in your way of success is you, then you’ll do what is necessary to become a powerhouse.

couchpotato

“My PVR is way too full to get to the gym today.”

2. Don’t compare themselves to others – “Man, that guy is huge!” “Did you see how much he was squatting?!” “I’m never gonna be that strong.”  These are some of the things we all say to ourselves when we see someone who is just killin’ it at the gym.  Even worse, social media has made it extremely easy to see what every Tom, Dick, and Harry is doing which, at times, can be motivating but also make you question every aspect of your training.  There’s always going to be someone bigger, stronger, and faster than you but that shouldn’t deter you from putting your head down giving your best effort.  Even the fittest people, despite being extremely fit, are simply trying to be the “best version of themselves” as Elliott Hulse would put it.  Knowing and accepting that 100% is all you can give and all you should expect will make training not only more enjoyable but also more sustainable.  Turn your phone off and get to work!

MSDTWIN EC015

there will always be someone bigger, stronger, and faster than you!

3. Focus on the process rather than the outcome – It is a well known fact in sports psychology that the best athletes are more process oriented than outcome oriented.  What this basically means is that the best athletes focus on the task at hand and let the results take care of themselves.  They focus on each workout, each exercise, each set, and each rep until eventually they’ve created a masterpiece.  They’re not checking their abs in the mirror after every set of ab wheel rollouts, they’re not weighing themselves 3 times a day, and they’re not testing their max deadlift every week.  To be great at anything you have to understand and have faith in the steps/process it takes to achieve greatness.  Worrying too much about the end result only creates stress which hinders your training altogether.  We all know Rome wasn’t built in a day and deep down inside YOU know that it’s going to take more than just a few workouts before you become a true physical specimen. So stop acting like a 6 year old kid on a road trip to Disneyland asking “Are we there yet?” and just enjoy the ride.

4. Work through and around injuries – I’ve talked about injuries before and how they can be an inevitable part of training – training hard that is.  It’s been said that the highest performing athletes train at such high volume and intensity that they are always on the cusp of injury.  Pushing the envelope day in and day out has its’ risks as well as its’ rewards.  Although inconvenient and frustrating, injuries don’t stop the highly fit from getting what they want.  Injuries are simply a bump in the road, not an excuse to give up altogether.  The highly fit take injuries as an opportunity to learn more about their bodies, address weaknesses and imbalances and recuperate stronger than they were before.  Learning new exercises, deloading, and soft tissue treatment are a few ways to stay in the game.  Click here to learn more about how to deal with injuries.

UFC 168: Weidman v Silva 2

the best athletes are always on the verge of injury

5. Understand that failure is a part of the process – Much like being injured, from time to time you won’t always have the greatest workout.  Every now and then, for whatever reason, your energy might not be the best and you won’t be able to push yourself as hard.  You might only squeeze out 8 reps on the bench when you would normally do 10 or you have to run at a slower pace on the treadmill to get through your intervals.  It happens.  World records and PRs can’t be set everyday.  The fittest people know that training isn’t an exact linear progression where every workout will be better than the last.  If it was, I would have an 800lb squat and be able to run a 4 minute mile but that simply is not the case.  There will be ups and downs but as long as you keep moving forward and not dwell on missed lifts or some random cheat meal your chances of success will be much greater.

6. Work through plateaus – “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, then you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.”   If you’ve been training long enough, there always comes a point where it becomes harder and harder to make gains.  You feel like you’ve been lifting the same weight for the same number of reps for an eternity.  You’ve hit your ceiling.  This is as good as it’s going to get so you might as well hang your jersey in the rafters and retire, right?  Wrong.  Plateaus are an opportunity to reassess your training and mix things up a bit.  The fittest people know that sometimes the smallest little tweaks to their programming can make a world of difference.  If you’ve been doing the same routine for more than 6 weeks, then it’s probably time to switch things up a little.  Anything from changing your training split, the order of exercises or how many sets/reps you do can be enough to shock your body and break through.

7. Open-minded – We all have our favorite exercises that we like do on a regular basis, myself included.  That doesn’t mean that they are in our best interest or are moving us any closer to our goals.  The fittest people understand that to get the best results you have to be open to new methods and new ways of thinking.  Crossfit, as controversial as it is, incorporates some of the most effective training methods from powerlifting, olympic weightlifting, and track and field to get the best results possible.  If you asked to see the training programs of the top 10 Crossfit Games athletes, the top 10 bodybuilders, and the top 10 sprinters in the world, you would get 10 different Crossfit programs, 10 different bodybuilding programs, and 10 different sprinting programs.  Taking your blinders off and accepting that there is more than one way to do things will go a long way in your training.  Whether you want to build muscle, get stronger, or even run a marathon, there is something that can be learned from various training methods.  Don’t be a fitness Nazi.  Listen. Learn. Evolve. Apply. Repeat.

nazi

nobody likes a Nazi.

To summarize, make the necessary sacrifices to make training a part of your life, focus on yourself, have faith in the training process, don’t let injuries get you down, don’t be afraid to fail, find a way to work through plateaus, and remember there’s more than one way to get great results.

If you liked this article, don’t forget to subscribe below to get more great articles sent to you! You’ll also receive a copy of the Pure Payne Method – a FREE 6 week training program and a Special Nutrition Report!

 

 

comment Add Comment

How to Perform the Perfect Push-up..

It doesn’t matter what type of exercise program you’re doing, it’s almost guaranteed that you’re going to have to do a push-up or some variation of it.  This exercise is a staple in most law enforcement and military training programs and is one of the best bodyweight exercises you can do.

The irony is that despite how common this exercise is, it gets absolutely butchered most of the time.  Some of the most common mistakes include:

  • wrong elbow position – elbows flaring out to the side
  • wrong hand position – hands internally rotated
  • inability to maintain plank position – lower back and hips sinking
  • improper head position – looking up
  • improper range of motion – not able to touch chest to the floor

Despite being a convenient exercise (i.e. no equipment and little space required) it isn’t a simple exercise.  Having the ability to press a large percentage of your body weight for multiple reps requires a fair amount of relative strength.  Therein lies the struggle.  To become a master of the pushup, use these quick fixes.

Keep your elbows below your shoulders – The elbows should be at approximately a 45 degree angle to you rib cage when performing a push-up.  This takes stress off the shoulders and places it on the chest and triceps which is what you want.

elbowsout

improper elbow position

elbowsin

proper elbow position

Externally rotate your hands – Keep your hands slightly turned out at an “11” and “1” position.  This will prevent the elbows from flaring out and activate your lats to stabilize your shoulders throughout the movement.

hands2

improper hand position

hands

proper hand position

Keep your core tight – The push-up can be thought of as a moving plank.  This makes it extremely important to maintain a solid core throughout the full range of motion.

Flex your glutes – To also help maintain proper plank position, be conscious of flexing your glutes to stabilize your hips.

Keep your head in a neutral position – There should be a straight line from the top of your head to your heels.  Looking up puts excess strain on your neck and will cause you to arch your back excessively.

pushup

improper head/hip position

pushup2

proper head/hip position

Lose weight – You might be strong as on ox under the bar, but if you struggle to move your own body weight, it might simply be due to the fact that you’re too heavy to move your weight efficiently.  You skinny bastards have the upper hand for once!

Check out the video below to see what a perfect pushup looks like.

[youtube id=”Eh00_rniF8E”]

If you struggle to perform a proper push-up with full range of motion, then there are many progressions you can use to work up to a full push-up.

Keep in mind, all of the above rules still apply even though you are doing progressions.

  • Push-ups from the knees – This is the one of the simplest progressions as it requires you lift lower percentage of your body weight.
  • Hands elevated push-ups – The next step would be to try push-ups with your hands elevated.  This will challenge your core strength a bit more while still lifting a lower percentage of your body weight than a full push-up.  The angle you perform these will depend on your strength and ability to get full range of motion.
  • Isometric pushups – To break through sticking points, you can try isometric holds at various points in the movement.  Start at the top position and lower yourself down to a point that is challenging and then hold that position for 5 seconds.  Try 2-3 sets of 5 repetitions.
  • Negative push-ups – Performing negatives is a great way to build strength and stability.  Start at the top position and lower yourself down slowly.  Aim for a 3-5 second tempo. Try 2-3 sets of 5 repetitions.

Check out the video below to see how to perform a negative pushup.

[youtube id=”WC2q2miXqoo”]

Aside from modifying the range of motion, you can also build chest and tricep strength using these exercises:

  • Bench press – Arguably the best exercise to develop chest and tricep strength.
  • Dumbell chest press – A great alternative to the barbell bench press as it will challenge your stability and strength.
  • Strict shoulder press (barbell or dumbbell) – Although a vertical press, the shoulder press will help to build strength and stability in the shoulders and strengthen the triceps which are all required to be proficient in the push-up.

If you’re pretty comfortable with the push-up and can do at least 30 reps unbroken, then give these advanced exercises and variations a try.

  • Feet elevated push-ups
  • Spiderman push-ups
  • Close grip push-ups
  • Ring push-ups

ringpushupsringpushup2ring pushups are great way to challenge your core strength and upper body stability

  • Clap Push-ups
  • Dips (ring or straight bar)

ringdips

ringdips2

ring dips will really test your upper body strength and stability

Becoming a master of the basics is secret to success in fitness. Work on your push-up game and don’t be another victim of sloppy form.

 

 

 

comment Add Comment

How to Build Strong Shoulders and Prevent Nagging Injuries

I’ve always referred to training as a journey and I always say “the journey is the reward.”  What I forgot to mention is that along this journey there may be a few bumps in the road.  Depending on your training age, genetics, and lifestyle, you may have an injury or two along the way.  If you’ve been training for a long time and never had any setbacks consider yourself lucky – maybe you should even write a book!

The point is, although injuries do happen from time to time, you can overcome them and become even more resistant to them in the process.  Being disciplined and taking a systematic approach is the key.

It’s safe to say that I’ve had my fair share of sprains and strains over the years – 3 achilles tendon ruptures and multiple hamstring strains to name a few.  As a result, I’ve had to learn how to work through and around various aches and pains.  Over the last few months, I’ve been suffering from some bicep tendonitis in my left shoulder.  I have good days and bad days.  Do I ever get frustrated? Absolutely.  Have I stopped taking my body for granted and become more strategic with my training? Absolutely.  Have I become wiser and more savvy as a result of dealing with this injury? ABSOLUTELY!

Coincidentally, this brings me to our main topic of discussion – building strong shoulders and preventing nagging injuries.  There are a number of factors that contribute to shoulder injuries that include but are not limited to:

  • Bad postureKelly Starrett said it best “sitting is the new smoking.”  If you sit at a desk all day then you aren’t doing yourself any favors.  Excessive sitting leads to rounded shoulders, tight traps and pecs and destroys your shoulder mobility.
  • Over development of the pecs – If you’re a meathead that lives and dies by the bench press, then you will most likely run into shoulder problems at some point in your training career.  Too much pec work pulls the shoulder joint forward making it vulnerable to impingement and other chronic injuries.

bench-press-pic-2

too much heavy pec work can lead to shoulder problems

  • Poor thoracic mobility – Also known as the “T” spine, thoracic mobility plays a huge role in your ability to perform overhead lifts without putting stress on your lower back.
  • Poor external rotation – Having trouble holding a proper “rack” position in a front squat or thruster?  Your external shoulder rotation is most likely limited.
  • Hyper active upper traps – Unfortunately, when we are stressed we tend to carry it in our neck and shoulders which makes these muscles hyperactive (they compensate for other muscles that should be doing the work).
  • Weak back muscles – A strong upper back is necessary to stabilize the scapula and keep the shoulder joint in a neutral position.  Muscular balance is critical to healthy joints.
  • Over use – You CAN have too much of a good thing.  Because the shoulder joint is involved in so many exercises it can easily become overused and develop chronic injuries.  Knowing how to moderate training volume can save your shoulders a lot of stress in the long run.
  • “Behind the neck” exercises – Loading the shoulder from behind the neck puts it in a very vulnerable position and can lead to dislocations and ligament tears.  Play safe and keep the weight in front of you.
  • Not “packing” the shoulder – During certain exercises like a chin-up or a push-up, the shoulder acts as a stabilizer and can only do so if it is in a “packed” position.  This is done by engaging your lats and rhomboids to pull your shoulders blades down and together. This protects the shoulders and makes the movement more efficient.

bad-posture1

“sitting is the new smoking”

The shoulder joint is a complex structure comprised of a number of muscles, ligaments and bones allowing it to move through multiple planes of motion.  The recommendations outlined will help to build strong healthy shoulders, prevent various chronic and acute injuries, as well as help to actively rehabilitate common shoulder dysfunctions.

If you want to have what Eric Cressey refers to as “bulletproof shoulders,” there are 3 main areas you need to address in your training:

  1.  Strength – The ability to load the shoulder joint and move those loads efficiently.
  2. Stability – The ability to load the shoulder joint and HOLD those loads efficiently.
  3. Mobility/Flexibility – The ability to move the shoulder joint through various ranges of motion without any pain or restriction.

To develop these areas,  there are many approaches you can take but at the same time it’s important to have a solid foundation which is built on basic fundamental exercises.

To develop strength, the following exercises should serve as the foundation of your training:

Overhead Exercises

Depending on the current state of your shoulders, overhead exercises may or may not be in your best interest.  If you have strong, healthy shoulders with good mobility, then going overhead will only reinforce those movement patterns.  If you suffer from an impingement and lack the thoracic mobility to lift overhead efficiently, then you might have to address these issues first.  If you’re pain free, these exercises should be a part of your shoulder training:

  • Strict Shoulder Press
  • Push Press
  • Strict Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  • 1 Arm Dumbbell Push Press

The strict presses and push presses are the best for overall strength and muscular development.  Single arm variations are also a great option to address any muscular imbalances.

tspine

your thoracic mobility will determine your ability to go overhead

Pulling Exercises

Too often, injuries like tendonitis and impingement are a result of bad posture, and over development of the pecs and anterior deltoids.  This pulls the shoulder joint forward making it more difficult for it to move freely overhead or in any direction for that matter.  To offset this anterior rotation, it’s important to develop strong back muscles such as the lower traps, rhomboids, rear deltoids and lats.  The law of gravity states the “what goes up must come down.”  The law of healthy shoulders states “for every push there must be a pull.”  Here are some pulling exercises that your shoulders will thank you for later:

  • Pull-up/Chin-ups
  • 1 Arm Dumbbell Rows
  • Bent Over Rows
  • Inverted Rows
  • Incline Dumbbell Rows
  • Face Pulls
  • Band Pull Aparts (front and overhead)
  • “Y”s, “T”s and “W”s

inclinerow

inclinerow2

incline dumbbell rows are great for the lower traps and rhomboids

Pull-ups and chin-ups are vertical pulls that strengthen the lats while the rowing exercises and pull aparts are horizontal pulls that will target the lower traps and rhomboids.

Rotator Cuff Exercises

I mentioned earlier that the shoulder is made up of a number of different muscles.  There are two main muscle groups that make up the shoulder – the deltoid and the rotator cuff.  The deltoid has 3 heads (front, lateral, and rear) and the rotator cuff is made up of 4 muscles (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor).  The rotator cuff sits under the deltoid and holds the shoulder joint together.  These muscles, if weak and neglected, can lead to a host of shoulder problems.  It’s important to take the time to strengthen these muscles  in isolation to protect them from strains and tears.  Here are some rotator cuff exercises:

  • Internal/External rotation with shoulder abducted/adducted

The external rotators generally pose the most problems and more time should be spent strengthening them.

Stability Exercises

Strength and stability go hand in hand which leads us to the best exercises for building shoulder stability:

  • Kettlebell Windmill – Builds shoulder stability while develops hip and lower back mobility.

windmill

windmill2

windmills are great for shoulder stability and lower back/hip mobility

  • Turkish Get-up – Builds shoulder stability while develops core strength and balance.
  • Overhead farmer’s walk – Builds shoulder stability while develops core strength and balance.

overheadwalk

the overhead walk will BULLETPROOF your shoulders

  • Overhead lunge – Builds shoulder mobility while develops core and leg strength.
  • Overhead squat – Builds shoulder mobility while develops core and leg strength.

The limiting factor in these exercises is the ability to hold and stabilize weight overhead. This is arguably the best way to build shoulder stability.

Mobility/Flexibility Exercises

Keeping your shoulders healthy also requires adequate mobility/flexibility through all the major planes of motion – flexion/extension, internal/external rotation, and abduction/adduction.

Here are some great mobility/flexibility exercises to get the shoulders moving freely:

  • External rotation with stick
  • Handcuff stretch with band
  • T-spine stretch on foam roller
  • Shoulder dislocates with stick
  • Towel stretch

Towel-stretch-IR

towel stretch

handcuffstretch

handcuff stretch

It’s important to note that too much mobility/flexibility (aka laxity) in a joint can be just as bad as not having enough.  If you have lax shoulders, then your primary focus should be on building strength and stability to prevent injury.

The shoulder plays either a primary or secondary role in a wide range of upper body exercises which makes it so critical to keep them healthy if you want to train hard and continue to make gains.  Don’t wait until shit hits the fan to start taking care of yourself.  Use these exercises as a PREVENTATIVE measure to a long lasting, pain free training regime.  Check out the video below for a great shoulder warm-up routine!

[youtube id=”j0U-09otG04″]

If you liked this article, subscribe below to get more articles like this sent directly to you and you’ll also receive 2 FREE ebooksThe Pure Payne Method and the Special Nutrition Report!

comment Add Comment

Fitness Finishers: 7 Lethal Finishers to Get You Shredded!

Growing up, I was a big wrestling fan, I mean huge!  Macho Man Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, you name it and I was all about it.  I lived to see all of my favorite stars go head to head and beat the snot out of each other (yes, I knew it was fake even back then).  But, what I loved most was watching the way these guys would end their matches.  There was always something to look forward to, a special move that would leave their opponent out for the count – a FINISHER.

This was something that always made the matches exciting and gave everyone something to look forward to.  It was what made each wrestler unique and notorious all at the same time.

You’re probably thinking “what does all this have to do with fitness?”  Two reasons actually.  First, I just really liked wrestling as a kid and I thought I’d make that mainstream information.  Second, the most electrifying and devastating part of a well programmed workout is also known as a finisher.

RandySavageHulkHogan

wrestling sure was good back in the day!

Depending on who you talk to, the finisher may be the most dreaded or the most welcomed portion of a workout. There are a few characteristics that make a finisher truly effective:

  • Highly metabolic – your conditioning is definitely put to the test
  • Includes a variety of compound movements – the more muscles working the better
  • 5-15 minutes long – long enough to do damage but not so long that intensity is compromised
  • You’re spent – it’s called a finisher for a reason

The primary objective of any good finisher is to:

  • Increase metabolic conditioning – both aerobic and anaerobic systems will be targeted
  • Burn more fat in less time – higher intensity yields greater fat burning potential
  • Preserve muscle mass – compound movements help to maintain lean muscle
  • Make workouts more challenging and exciting – beats sitting on a treadmill for an hour

The sky’s the limit when it comes to putting together killer finishers.  The key things to keep in mind are your current fitness level, exercise selection, and how much you’re willing to suffer!  It should go without saying that intensity is definitely the name of the game here.

Over the years, I’ve definitely put myself as well as others through some pretty epic workouts.  However, there are a few spicy ones that come to mind.  Here are 7 finishers that will hopefully one day go down in the hall of fame.

1. “Death by burpees” – Anytime you hear the words “death by” you should be afraid….. very afraid.   The “death by” rep scheme is where you perform 1 rep of an exercise, the next minute you do 2 reps and you keep adding one rep every minute until you cannot complete the full rep count within the minute.  It gets intense pretty fast but makes for a great conditioning workout.  Your workout would look like this:

1st minute – 1 burpee

2nd minute – 2 burpees

3rd minute – 3 burpees

4th minute – 4 burpees

etc. until failure.

A good goal would be to get to 15 minutes or more.  Burpees….Never leave home without them.

2.  Thrusters – The thruster is likely the most feared barbell exercise.  It’s potency is not to be underestimated.  This full body exercise will get your heart pumping and send your metabolism into overdrive in no time! Your thruster workout will look like this:

Every minute on the minute for 8 minutes: perform 8 thrusters.

Start on the minute and perform 8 thrusters. The time remaining in the minute is your rest. Repeat for 8 minutes – 64 reps total).

Use a moderate weight that will allow you to complete all the reps in the allotted time.

Sounds simple enough, but the short rest periods will catch up to you pretty fast leaving you gasping for air and drenched in sweat in a mere 8 minutes!

3. Row 100 calories for time – Rowing sucks.  But it delivers one hell of a workout.

Fellas aim for 5 minutes or less.

Ladies aim for 6:20 or less.

Things to remember:

  • Maintain long and powerful strokes.
  • Don’t go out too hard from the start.
  • Keep your breathing controlled.
  • Try keep a consistent pace.
  • Save some gas for the final 20 calories.

3.  Wall/balls and double unders – These two exercises were made popular by Crossfit and for good reason – they will humble even the biggest and strongest specimens on the planet.  The combination of throwing a medicine ball to a 10ft target paired with a high skill conditioning exercise like double unders will serve up an extra large can of whoop ass! Your workout will look like this:

In 10 minutes, complete as many rounds and reps of:

1a. 15 wall/balls

1b. 30 double unders

(men use a 20lb ball/women use a 14lb ball)

Aim for 6 full rounds or more.

Things to remember:

  • Try to keep a steady pace for the entire 10 minutes.
  • Break up the wall/balls early to prevent “redlining” and taking too many long breaks.
  • Stay relaxed and don’t get too frantic with your double unders.

Wallballs

Tombstone_Piledriver

not sure what’s worse, wall/balls and double unders or a tombstone piledriver

4.  Box jumps and pushups – These are two great body weight exercises that make for an effective full body workout.  Your workout will look like this:

1a.  Box jumps 21/18/15/12/9/6/3

1b.  Pushups    21/18/15/12/9/6/3

You can approach this workout in 2 ways:

  1. Try to keep all sets of pushups and box jumps unbroken and rest 45-60 seconds between sets (rest only after you’ve completed a set of box jumps and pushups).
  2.  Complete the entire rep scheme as fast as possible.

The first option may be better for beginner to intermediate lifters and the second option will definitely challenge advanced lifters.  Either way, you’re gonna get a fantastic workout.

5.  Dumbell snatches and split jumps –  All you need is a dumbell and some heart for this little ditty.  Your workout will look like this:

1a.  Dumbell snatch 5ea/6ea/7ea/8ea/9ea/10ea arm

1b.  Split jumps 5ea/6ea/7ea/8ea/9ea/10ea leg

Again, you can either do unbroken sets with short rest periods (45-60secs) or complete the entire rep scheme as fast as possible.  Choose a weight for the dumbell snatch that is challenging to do 5-6 reps with and use that weight for the entire workout.

dumbbell-snatch-25-of-your-body-weight

sometimes a single dumbbell is more than enough…

Things to remember:

  • Make sure you get full range of motion with your split jumps (back knee touches the ground and full extension of knees and hips in the air).
  • Make sure you get full range of motion with your dumbell snatches (dumbell touches the ground at the bottom and arm and legs fully extended at the top).

6. Clean and Jerk/Back Squat Complex – There’s nothing like a good barbell complex to put hair on your chest (or give you that bikini body if you’re a lady).  Disputably the most effective way to burn calories and hence burn fat, barbell complexes are must if you’re looking to get shredded.  Your workout will look like this:

1a.  Clean and jerk 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8

1b.  Back Squats     1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8

Use the same weight for both the clean and jerk and the back squat.  The limiting factor in this workout will be the clean and jerk so use a weight that you can clean and jerk comfortably 4-5 times.

Try to perform unbroken sets with short rest periods (45-60secs) or complete the entire rep scheme as fast as possible.  Get ready to sweat, this one’s gonna cook.

7.  Kettlebell swings and stairs – Nothing fancy here, just good old fashioned work.  Sometimes keeping it simple is the most effective way to go.  Your workout will look like this:

1a.  Stairs              3/4/5/4/3

1b.  KB Swings 15/15/15/15/15

Fellas try a 24kg kettlebell.

Ladies try a 16kg kettlebell.

Depending on your fitness level and mobility, you can either use the Russian or American swing.  For the more advanced lifter with no injuries, you can use the American swing. For beginners or anyone with shoulder or lower back issues, the Russian swing will be a safer option.

Annie-Thorsdottir-KB-Swing

the American swing definitely packs a punch!

Try to perform unbroken sets with short rest periods (45-60secs) or complete the entire rep scheme as fast as possible.

If you don’t have access to a staircase, you can do shuttle runs instead (i.e. 50/75/100/75/50 meter shuttle runs).

We all want to get the best results in the least amount of time possible but unfortunately that means you’re going to have to endure a little pain and suffering to get there.  It’ll be all worth it when you have herculean strength and a body that would have given the Ultimate Warrior a run for his money.

ultimate-warrior-2

rest in peace Warrior!

What other exercises do you like to use for finishers? Drop a comment below!

Don’t forget to subscribe below to get your FREE copy of the Pure Payne Method and more great articles delivered to you directly.

 

 

 

 

 

comment 1 Comment

How to Burn Fat – The Definitive Guide…

Training in essence is quite simple – training objectives that is.  Let’s be honest, most people fall into one of two major training categories – fat loss and muscle building.  Of course, there are other goals such as strength, work capacity, endurance and things like that, but most of us are either trying to achieve some combination of fat loss and increased muscle mass.

Today, we’re going to look specifically at fat loss and the most effective ways to shed those dreaded jiggly bits.  Notice how I used the term fat loss and not weight loss?  The problem isn’t weight, it’s fat!  Just because you lose weight doesn’t mean you’re any better off than you were before.  The idea is to improve your overall body composition to become healthier, stronger, and fitter overall.  Achieving this takes a little more than simply going on a cabbage soup diet and riding the elliptical for 2 hours a day.

What it comes down to is being smart and strategic with both your training and nutrition. If you’ve been training for any length of time whatsoever then you’ve probably made a few mistakes along the way including:

  • long, monotonous cardio sessions at the gym
  • crash dieting only to gain back the weight you lost and then some
  • switching from weight training to cardio exclusively
  • using light weights and high reps to try and get ripped
  • drastically cutting your calories
  • endless ab workouts that still leave you with a flabby belly
  • training 7 days/week

It’s all good though, making mistakes is part of the training process.  Learning from them is what’s going to take you to the next level.  Now let’s get down to business.

There are many ways to achieve great results but I’m going to outline some of the most effective methods that will burn fat AND preserve muscle mass.  That’s right, you have to be able to keep your hard earned muscle in the process otherwise what’s the point? Unless you just want to be skinny fat and have the strength of a 10 year old boy then you better listen up.

Here are some proven methods to burn fat in a SENSIBLE and SUSTAINABLE fashion:

1. Lift – Most people that want to lose fat will usually decide to take up jogging or some other cardio activity first.  Not the best move. The first step to burning fat is to actually build muscle and the only way to do that is to lift.  Studies have shown that people who weight train exclusively lose more fat than people that do aerobic exercise exclusively. Muscle is the engine that burns all fuel, the more you have the easier it is to burn fat.

2. Use big lifts – Once you’ve decided to start jacking weights, you’ve got to make sure you’re using the most effective exercises and those are the big compound lifts.  Exercises like squats, deadlifts, presses, and chinups use lots of muscle groups and elicit the greatest metabolic response compared to isolation exercises.

46-arnold-schwarzenegger-leg-squat

lift big to get lean

3. Interval train – There are numerous studies that point to the effectiveness of interval training.  Methods such as HIIT (high intensity interval training) and tabata are prime examples of how better results can be achieved in a fraction of the time.  As opposed to steady state cardio, interval training forces you to work at higher intensity causing you to burn more fat while preserving lean muscle tissue.  Greater improvements in aerobic conditioning have also been shown with interval training versus traditional cardio.  If you’re pressed for time and want a killer workout, give some of these firebreathers a try:

  • treadmill – 1min on/1min off x 8 @ 15% incline
  • sled pushes – 40 meters x 10 (60-90sec rest between rounds)
  • burpees – 30 seconds on/30 seconds off x 8

froningsled

sled pushes = intensity!

4.  Do steady state cardio after interval training – Now I know I just said that steady state cardio is inferior to interval training but all forms of exercise have value depending on how and when they’re used.  Studies have shown that interval training helps to effectively release fat cells into the bloodstream to be used for energy.  However, sometimes not all of those fat cells get used.  Something as simple as 10-15 minutes of steady state cardio after a hard session of intervals can be an effective way to pick up the leftovers and burn even more fat.  Think of this as the icing on the cake.

5. Fasted cardio – The idea here is to perform your cardio sessions first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.  This is also when your growth hormone levels are highest and insulin levels are lowest.  At this time, your body will efficiently use fat for energy.  Both steady state cardio and interval training will be effective at this time.  If you’re not a morning person or accustomed to training on an empty stomach then you may find it hard to workout at your normal intensity levels.  If the quality of your workouts are suffering too much then you may be better off training at other times during the day when your output is higher.  However, this is definitely a great option for those of you who like to get your workouts over and done with first thing in the morning.

6.  Complexes – This is disputably one of the most effective fat burning methods.  Complexes are when you perform a series of compound movements in succession with little to no rest in between each movement.  These complexes can be done with barbells, dumbells, or kettlebells as long as there is sufficient overload.  The overload allows you to burn more calories and maintain strength and muscle mass while you melt the fat off your body.  Here some complexes that never disappoint:

  • barbell complex – 10 hang cleans/10 thrusters, 9 hang cleans/9 thrusters etc… 1 hang clean/1 thruster (rest 60-90 sec between sets)
  • dumbell complex – 10 db squats/8 db bent over rows/6 db push presses x 5 (rest 60-90sec between sets)

When performing complexes, use the same weight for all the movements and keep strict rest periods to keep the intensity high.  The combinations are endless, they key is to go hard to get the best results.

Check out the video below of Rob Orlando crushing the “bear” complex.

[youtube id=”8IQftORtxqk”]

7. Crossfit – Yes, believe it or not, Crossfit is a fantastic way to rev your metabolism and shed some serious fat.  Much like complexes, Crossfit uses a wide variety of functional movements and when performed at high intensity you get one hell of a metabolic stimulus!  The intensity (doing more work in less time) is what makes Crossfit so effective (and controversial).  The proof is in the pudding, all you have to do is look at the physiques of some of the top competitors.  Of course, Crossfit isn’t for everybody but it’s hard to argue some of the tremendous results it delivers.  If you’re looking to spice up your workouts and shock your body, give Crossfit a try.

8.  Train 4-5x per week – Workout frequency is just as important as workout intensity.  To ensure you are getting enough metabolic output, you should be training  4-5 days/week.  This will keep your metabolism elevated and enhance your fat burning efforts.

9.  Keep your workouts under an hour – If burning fat is your number one priority, then your workouts should be shorter and more intense.  No more long, arduous sessions at the gym.  Focus on quality exercises and being efficient with your time.  Full body strength complexes or 15-20mins of strength work followed by 15-20mins of interval training is the way to get things done.

10.  Train explosively – Not enough good things can be said about the benefits of developing power.  Using explosive exercises like sprinting, plyometrics, and Olympic weightlifting are phenomenal for fast twitch muscle fiber development and smoldering fat cells.  To learn more about training for power click here.

powerclean

in the land of strength, power is king..

11. Get plenty of sleep – During sleep, the body has an opportunity to repair itself and set the stage for optimal fat metabolism.  Growth hormone and testosterone levels increase during sleep and are vital to burning fat.  Keep your hormones and metabolism in check by getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

12.  Eat only when you’re hungry – Sounds simple enough but you’d be surprised how quickly we turn to food to be social or to kill time.  If you listen to your body more and only eat when absolutely necessary, you’d be surprised how much less you’d consume.  I’m not suggesting you starve yourself just simply be more conscious of your intake.

13.  Eat plenty of protein – Adequate protein intake is necessary to preserve lean muscle and will keep you full longer.  This reduces the urge to snack on refined sugars and processed foods. Aim for at least .75-1 gram per pound of bodyweight.

14. Eat healthy fats – That’s right, eating fat will help you to lose fat.  Healthy fats found in foods like fish, avacado, nuts, and eggs don’t spike insulin levels the way refined sugars do.  This means that your body will better use these foods for energy rather than storing them as fat.  Also, these foods contain more vitamins and minerals making them a better food choice overall.

nutsssssss

15. Take caffeine before training – Caffeine has been shown to stimulate the release of fat cells into the bloodstream to be used for energy.  A cup of coffee 30-40 minutes before a workout can be enough to jumpstart your metabolism not to mention provide a nice energy boost before your workout.  If you’re sensitive to caffeine then less potent options like green tea may be more suitable.

16. Keep most of your carb intake around training – It’s important to maintain a reasonable carb intake even when trying to lose fat.  To help fuel your workouts consume some carbs 30-60 minutes before training.  Nothing too heavy, something that digests relatively quick like fruit is a good option.  To maximize recovery, consume fast acting carbs within 30-60 minutes post workout.  Your carb intake can be higher at this time since you are less likely to store excess carbs as fat.  Listen to your body and consume enough carbs to give you the energy you need to train without feeling sluggish or depleted but not so much that you are gaining weight.

17.  Cut calories effectively – If you’re the type of person that likes to count calories then you need to make sure you reduce them in a rational manner.  What I mean is that you don’t want to cut your calories too drastically.  If you do, you run the risk of 3 major pitfalls:

  1. slower metabolism  – the body is now burning less fat at any given time.
  2. reduction in lean muscle – the body is now burning muscle instead of fat for energy.
  3. increase in fat – restricted calories can lead to cravings for unhealthy, calorie dense foods that promote an increase in fat.

Don’t cut calories by more than 500 per day to ensure normal metabolic function.  It’s also important to note what calories you are cutting.  For example, you don’t want to reduce your calories from protein too much as they are needed to preserve lean tissue.  Manipulating fat and carb intake may be your best bet depending on what your consumption levels are at currently.

Sensible and sustainable are the key words to take home.  You can definitely use more extreme methods to cut fat but life will be miserable and you’ll most likely gain every single pound back and more.  Training should be enjoyable and rewarding and these methods will ensure it stays that way.

Don’t forget to subscribe below to get more great articles sent directly to you. Plus, you’ll get a FREE copy of the Pure Payne Method and Special Nutrition Report!