Friday, October 30, 2009
Lately, there seems to be a lot of confusion on how much protein one needs to fully maximize their potential, and get bigger and stronger. Some experts claim that you need as much as 2g of protein/lb of bodyweight. Others claim that your body cannot digest this amount of protein, and recommend far smaller dosages. Experts who claim that only a moderate amount of protein is necessary to build muscle claim that the need for more protein is a scam permeated by the multi-billion dollar supplement industry. Experts who claim that you need to take in a lot of protein to build a big, strong physique are often big, strong guys themselves, who we all would like to imitate. It is no surprise that many people out there are left confused, not knowing what to do or where to turn!
Beef. It's What's for Dinner.
I don’t listen to many people in this industry anymore. There are many guys out there trying to reinvent the wheel, and scam people on bullshit theories that do little more than make the theorist well known. One of the guys who I DO have a great deal of respect for is Jim Wendler of EliteFTS. Jim is very simplistic in his approach to training and nutrition, and I like that. (Any man that can do this has my immediate attention)
manual is one of the best purchases I have ever made, because it JUST MAKES SENSE AND GETS RESULTS. If you are serious about training, and do not own this manual, then get one now and read it immediately, it will change the way you think. So what does Jim Wendler have to do with protein? Like I said, Jim keeps his approach to training and diet simple. To get big, eat more. To shed bodyfat, eat less and become more active. It IS that simple.
So what do I think? What is my advice? Well, let me tell you a little bit of background about myself. I have trained seriously for 10 years. I am not overly athletic, and have had to work very hard for every gain that I have made. At my height of 5’9” I have hovered around 180-185 pounds for the last 3 years, with my strength levels increasing ever so slowly, and in some areas, not very much at all. I have always been afraid of being “fat.” Every time I would eat more, I would get stronger and add weight, but would freak out and back off the calories, protein, etc. Guess what? The strength gains would stall as well. Here is what I think. If you want to get bigger, you need to be in a caloric surplus, and you better be damn sure you are in one. For 99% of us, this caloric surplus is not going to come from sweet potatoes and chicken 5X/day. We will need to increase our intake of protein, carbs, and fat. This may mean increased servings of pizza, burgers, and chicken parm subs. If you want to get big at a snails pace, then don’t heed this advice, and keep listening to the genetically gifted guys who say only to eat chicken and broccoli. Myself, I am after results.
If we are not going to get our calories from a boatload of protein, then where are these calories going to come from? Personally, I do not respond well to VERY high levels of carbohydrate intake. The insulin spike would leave me looking like the Michelin Man. When trying to add strength and size, like I said, I would increase carbs, but also increase my protein and fat. If protein is the macronutrient responsible for building muscle, then how much do we need? I don’t know. But let me ask you this, if you were going on a road trip and needed gas but had a malfunctioning fuel indicator, how much fuel would you put in your car? I bet you would put more than enough! When it comes to protein, too much is better than not enough. When I intake a lot of protein, I know that my calories are being spiked, and that every macronutrient can do the job it was designed to do in my body.
Pick a goal, and go get it! If you are trying to get bigger, go reach your goal. If you are trying to shed bodyfat, go reach your goal. Happy where you are, then change nothing, but if that truly is the case, then I have to question why you train to begin with.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
For me I’ve often found that I didn’t really place too much merit in the theory that music can motivate herculean efforts in the gym. Don’t get me wrong, I feel that music is a complete necessity. Anyone who’s stepped into a facility resembling superman’s fortress of solitude will tell you a quiet gym is about as intense as a hello kitty backpack. But that’s it, nothing more. My formula was: silence=excruciating misery, music=gotta be there, genre be damned. As long as there was something distracting me from the various guttural moans and grunts I figured game on, Spice Girls away.
Is this what you like to listen to before a max effort deadlift?
Our clientele is diverse and the gym has had a wide variety of musical styling’s bumping through the walls. Little Wayne’s profound lyricism, Lamb of Gods driving double bass and Kelly Clarkson’s sparking octave bending wail (thanks Kyle), we have pretty much heard it all. But I have been looking around recently and noticing some people respond tremendously well to a certain track, hammering out weights they may or may not have other wise attained. I myself reconnected with a tremendous “smash your head through a wall” album- Rage Against The Machine’s self titled album, and saw a bit of the mad dog come out in me.
So what is it? Hogwash? Valid? What say you iron heads, does music dictate how you are going to perform or will Air Supply’s greatest hits carry you though a max effort lower body day? Let the debate “rage” away!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I cannot stand people who are soft. They bother me. I will never force someone to do something they claim hurts, but my God, it seems as though these days a lot of people are critically injured only to make a miraculous recovery 48 hours later. Whether it’s “my shoulder” or my “hamstring” or what have you. Whatever happened to the good old days when the football coach would say “Son, either you are hurt, or you are injured.” The implication being, we all have to train through, and play through bumps, tweaks, and bruises, but should never put ourselves at risk to become seriously injured. I guess what I am saying is these days, it seems as though an alarming majority of people simply don’t know the difference between mild pain and serious injury, which goes along the fact that people of this generation are butter soft!
Am I saying to train through pain? ABSOLUTELY NOT. But people, there is a large difference between muscle tenderness and a torn hamstring. If you are tender or sore from a workout, take care of yourself. Don’t go out drinking 3 times a week, drink no water during the day, and sleep for 5 hours a night, and then wonder why you can’t do Glute Ham Raises without cramping. Are you really that dumb? Rather, hydrate well, eat well, sleep well, stretch, foam roll, and repeat, and you will be amazed with how much better you feel.
Toughen up and take care of yourselves, and the gains WILL follow!
Monday, October 26, 2009
Long Live the Back Squat
These days, the internet is buzzing over a highly respected strength coach’s video in which he talks about his elimination of the back squat from his athletic programming. Now, before I even delve into this matter, I would like to start by saying that I have a lot of respect for this person, and think he is an awesome strength coach. Just because I don’t agree with everything that he says, doesn’t mean that I can’t still learn from him, and believe me, I still do learn quite a bit from this individual.
The strength coach’s reasoning is simple. He feels as though single leg variations (i.e. the Bulgarian Split Squat or Pistol Squats) overload the lower body, and provide for more effective strength gains due to the fact that in the back squat, the lower back gives out before the legs do. I can see his point, and I agree with him, HOWEVER, I am a strong believer in not ignoring a muscular weakness. This is why they invented the leg press machine. It completely overloads the lower body, while taking the lower back out of the lift. Does this mean that the leg press machine is more effective than squatting? Hell no! Any strength coach worth his salt will tell you that is not the case.
Now, in his video he discusses that the core musculature (abdominals, obliques, lower back) is responsible for allowing us to back squat effectively by providing the transfer of power and strength needed to conduct the lift. I know that at times, the lower back does give out, but if we can get that lower back strong, don’t you think that will help us athletically in a myriad of ways?
The King of the Jungle: The Back Squat
While I can see his point, I don’t see how one could OBJECTIVELY perform a Bulgarian Split Squat for Max Effort Work. EVERYTIME I perform this movement, the leg that is up is being pre-fatigued in the stretched position, particularly in the hip flexor and quadriceps. When you finish the set on one leg, even if you rest between legs, the other leg is simply not as fresh as the first. This is the main reason why I do not think I would ever perform this lift as an indicator exercise.
I love Bulgarian Split Squats for accessory work, and happen to think they are a great exercise, but just not an exercise where I am going to worry tremendously about the numbers. I happen to value this exercise as an excellent hip mobilizer/stretch, and find that when the weight goes up, the depth goes up without constant reinforcement. I also have to question the safety of performing Max Effort work in this position, with a heavy load.
In closing, here are some random thoughts:
-Back squatting is FUN, Bulgarian Split Squats are NOT FUN, and in the private setting, your athletes had better be having a little bit of fun in the gym.
-The Bulgarian Split Squat does not provide an objective measurement of lower body strength.
-Back Squatting is a GREAT way to help develop a strong core, which will transfer to an increased level of performance on the athletic field.
-The Back Squat STILL works the lower body quite well. Perform a widow maker set of 20 reps and then try and tell me that it doesn’t.
-“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The Back Squat has been king for many years for a REASON. It works.
-Should EVERYONE Back Squat? No, if you are tall with long femurs, or have any lower back issues, than perhaps it is best to deload the bar and perform either single leg variations or leg presses.For all of you 6’6” guys that love to squat, If you are able to tolerate back squats, then go ahead! However, for all of you 5’11” guys out there, just shut up and squat!
Monday, October 19, 2009
On Sunday morning, I woke up to find, like many of you, that 20 year old UConn Football CB Jasper Howard had died after an on campus stabbing. My mouth was literally open as I saw the ESPN highlights of him playing the game of his life against Louisville only HOURS before, recording 11 tackles and recovering a key fumble. How could this happen? While I do not know the circumstances of his untimely passing, nor does it particularly matter, I was deeply saddened that a young, expectant father had died so soon, with so much life to live. Perhaps Jasper can serve a greater purpose to us all in life.
How many stupid, trivial things do we get stressed out over?'
How many of us do not take a chance, out of fear of failure?
How many of us are NOT living the life we want to live, and are just going through the motions day by day?
How many of us can look in the mirror and say that, at the end of the day, we have worked as hard as we could have, or that we have tried our hardest to reach a certain goal in life?
Obviously I am sad Jasper had to leave us. I did not know him, but perhaps Jasper can touch the lives of many people he did not know, by causing people to re-evaluate their own lives. ALL of us can stand to make improvements in the way we live our lives, and although he paid the ultimate price, Jasper's passing will undoubtedly save the lives of many. Life is too short, so live yours to the fullest.
R.I.P., Jasper, we are truly sad to see you go.
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