Saturday, May 30, 2015

10 Common Fitness Mistakes Beginners Make!

In truth, I could easily title this post "50 Common Mistakes," but I will save the lengthier info for my ebook that I am in the process of writing. There will also be an ebook to the similar effect regarding nutrition. I will keep you posted! For now, here are 10 common fitness mistakes beginners make:

1. Pushing too hard, too soon.
2. Not learning proper form, especially for the basic compound movements.
3. Not learning to have the "mind/muscle connection."
4. Not checking your ego at the door.
5. Not putting priority focus on your weaknesses.
6. Men- not training legs!
7. Women- not training upper body!
8. Not creating goals; both short and long term.
9. Not mixing up your workout routine frequently enough.
10. Not realizing that nutrition is the foundation of your fitness success!

Questions or comments? Feel free to ask...I love to educate on these topics! Train Hard!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Women: Building Lean Muscle For Optimal Fat Loss

This is a very important post because it addresses an issue I have seen way too many times to count over the years; women who want to burn fat and "tone up," so they begin a journey of endless cardio only to end up losing muscle, not burning the desired amount of fat, and not "toning up" at all...
For some reason along the way, too many women have believed that the best way to burn fat and get toned, is to do endless bouts of steady-state, long duration cardio. Whether that is in the form of walking/jogging on the treadmill, walking/jogging outside, using the elliptical, etc., it really doesn't matter; these methods are not going to get you toned and burn fat optimally.

There are several reasons why endless cardio is not the answer. First off, cardio does not put your muscle under enough stress (breakdown) to elicit any sort of change when it comes to encouraging your body to get your muscles growing. Second, long duration cardio eventually puts your body in a catabolic (muscle burning) state, once your glycogen stores (the body's energy reserves) are depleted.
But the most important reason (in my opinion) why cardio is not the answer, is that it only elevates your metabolic rate for a short period after you finish. But fear not: there is something that will elevate your metabolic rate 24 hours a day, and that is lean muscle tissue; more of it, that is!

I am in no way saying that cardio does not have a place in your fitness regimen, because it does. It increases your cardiovascular endurance and is obviously great for your heart and lung health. But if you are doing it in an effort to burn muscle, you have to be smart about it. Choose a form of high intensity interval training to maximize fat burning through cardio. Whether it is sprint intervals, stair sprints/stairmill, etc.

But even with HIIT cardio, you still need to strengthen and build lean muscle. Muscle has a higher metabolic rate than fat, so if you simply work on building new lean muscle, you will inevitably increase your body's metabolic rate 24 hours a day. To do this, you have to hit the weights! Do NOT have the common fear/misconception that as a woman, you are going to get too big and bulky. It is not going to happen. Sure, everyone has a muscle group that just builds easier than the rest, or you may have naturally muscular legs, etc., but women do not naturally contain enough anabolic (muscle building) hormones to produce mass muscle.

Remember, muscle is much smaller than fat in volume, so if you gain 10 pounds of muscle and lose 10 pounds of fat, I assure you, you are going to notice a big difference regardless of it being a wash on the scale! So the next time you go to the gym, do a 5-10 minute cardio warm up, then go hit the weights! Then you can finish up with cardio if you choose. Train hard, and train smart!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Simple Carbs and Post Workout

For majority of the day, I would always recommend trying to steer clear of sugars as much as possible. However, there is one time when simple carbohydrates (sugars) are super beneficial, and that is with your post-workout protein! 
When your muscles are broken down and your energy stores are depleted after your training session, you want to get super fast digesting whey protein in your system right away (I recommend anywhere from 25-50 grams). But you also want that protein to flood your muscles as efficiently as possible. This is where simple carbs come into play. When you ingest fast-digesting simple carbs with your post-workout protein, the insulin release will help drive the protein into your muscle cells better! 
You also need not worry about those simple carbs being stored and converted to fat, because they will be quickly utilized to replenish your depleted glycogen stores! 
You want to take a simple carb that is easily digested and utilized by the body. My recommendation is dextrose. This can be in the form of fat-free candies, Gatorade, or straight dextrose powder (which is what I use). I recommend 40-60 grams post workout. Train hard! 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Supplementation and Fitness!

Supplementation! Let me start by saying that if you are a sedentary individual, or someone who does not go hard in the gym consistently, this post really does not apply to you. That being said, here we go...
Supplementation is a very important part of a person's fitness endeavor. However, the type of supplements you need can vary, depending on your goals i.e. gaining leaning muscle, burning fat, performance, etc. If you have questions about what types of supplements you can benefit from, just reply in the post thread! For purposes of the general fitness public, I recommend taking the following supplements:
1. Whey protein- fast digesting, good anytime of day, best for post-workout.
2. Casein protein- super slow digesting, best at night before bed to keep a steady stream of protein flowing through the body while at rest.
3. Multivitamin- Most people do not eat a diet with a wide enough variety of foods to obtain the amounts of crucial vitamins and minerals needed, especially for the athlete/weight lifter/etc.
4. Fish oil- supplementing with fish oil (capsules or liquid) provides the body with the essential fatty acids (EFA'S) DHA and EPA which are critical for muscle growth, along with a host of other benefits.
5. ZMA- zinc and magnesium can be taken separately, or in the form of ZMA (zinc magnesium aspartate). ZMA MUST be taken on an empty stomach, and the preferred time is an hour or so before bed. Zinc and magnesium can help facilitate muscle growth, fat loss, and in some people, better sleep! Side note** you do NOT want zinc and magnesium in your multivitamin, so make sure you look closely! The image below will direct you to the maker of my protein, multivitamin, and ZMA!
Train hard!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Brown Rice vs. White Rice

OK guys and gals, here it is... brown rice vs. white rice! If you've been following me 1) thank you! and 2) you've probably heard me say repeatedly that when it comes to carbohydrates, you want to stick to complex sources. I still encourage you to do that, and I will preface this post by saying that if you are someone who suffers from decreased insulin sensitivity (i.e. diabetic), or are someone who is sedentary and/or do not train hard in the gym, then you should stick to brown rice. That being said...
I believe that white rice is better! Nutritionists/Dietitians will always tout the benefits of brown rice; the fiber content, the lower glycemic index rating, the protein (which, by the way, is a mute point because the protein in rice is not highly bioavailable), but here is what you don't know...
Brown rice contains phytic acid. Phytic acid blocks the absorption of certain minerals! This acid is in the bran, which is removed in the milling process (creating white rice). Also, if you are someone who suffers from digestive issues, brown rice is most likely going to be a no go.
If you train hard, your body is going to respond better to white rice. But what about the fiber I am losing out on? You should be aiming to get your fiber from cruciferous, nutrient dense vegetables, and fruit.
Lastly, some of the healthiest cultures in the world live on a diet that is...starch based! So there you have it, white rice is the way to go. I prefer Jasmine!

Today's Training: Back/Abs

Great back/abs training today!
Wide neutral seated pull downs 
Chin ups
DB row on incline bench
Hammer Strength seated low row
Hammer Strength seated underhand row
Standing rope straight arm pull down 
Rope crunch on knees
Dip bar straight arm hold w/ leg lifts and bicycle crunch combo
Train hard!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Eat Kale!

Food of the Day: Kale! One of the healthiest vegetables around, its no wonder it has become so popular in recent years. A cruciferous vegetable that has risk-lowering benefits for at least 5 different cancers, it is also a great detoxifier for the body. While providing great amounts of vitamins A and C, Kale packs a super punch when it comes to vitamin K. Like an 1,100% RDA super punch. Try it steamed to reap the most of its benefits!

Holiday/Special Occasion Cheat Meals

Happy Memorial Day! For those of you possibly cooking out today and splurging/cheating from your normal nutrition plan, use it to your advantage! After today, get right back on track the rest of the week and today may actually benefit you! When your nutrition is on point 90% of the time, an occasional "cheat" day can reset your metabolism and help you break through a plateau. enjoy your day!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Compound Lifts For New Muscle

Tip of the Day: For those who are new are just started lifting weights, if you are looking to add new muscle focus on compound lifts. Examples of these are: squats, dead lifts, bench press, pull ups, barbell rows, military press, dumbbell press, leg press, babe;; curls, etc. These types of movements recruit more muscle, thus allowing a beginner to put on new muscle faster.
Once you have been training for a while and have a solid foundation, you can then start to sculpt your muscles the way you want by adding in the isolation exercises needed to do so.

Saturday, May 23, 2015


Tip of the Day: Eat a big breakfast! There are several benefits to starting the day out with a big meal. You have been fasting all night while sleeping, your metabolism has been slowed down, and you wake up in a catabolic state with your glycogen stores depleted. When you wake up, you want to get back in an anabolic state and get your metabolism revved up quickly. 
Aim for a breakfast dense with protein, carbs, and healthy fats. I recommend aiming for 30% of your total daily calorie allowance at breakfast! Not only will it give you sustained energy to get your day started, but it will put you ahead calorie-wise, and you won't be struggling to catch up later in the day! 

Whey Protein

Food of the Day: Whey protein! Ok, so not really a "food" per se...In today's "Tip of the Day" I briefly discussed whey protein. Whey protein makes up 20% of milk protein (the other 80% is casein). It is extremely fast digesting, and therefore the best protein you can consume immediately post workout. Quality whey protein will go right to your muscles when they need it most; after being broken down from your workout.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Protein Powder

Tip of the Day: Make sure you are taking a high quality protein powder at the right time(s) of the day depending on your goals! Whey protein is fast digesting and should be taken when you wake up, pre workout, and post workout (post workout being the most important). Casein protein is extremely slow digesting (up to 7 hours), and is best taken before bed to minimize muscle catabolism. I only use one brand of protein, and this is it:

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Eat Avocado!

Food of the Day: Avocado! This fruit packs a nutrient dense punch! Just one whole avocado can give you as much as 320 calories! But its uniqueness lies in that it provides a decent amount of ALL 3 macronutrients. You should be mainly eating avocado for it's fat and fiber content; it provides almost 30 grams of fat, with about 70% of that coming from the healthiest, monounsaturated variety. It also provides roughly 17 grams of carbohydrates and an amazing 14 grams of fiber. Top that all off with 4 grams of protein, and you have one amazing fruit! Just be careful to not go overboard, as you will see the calories/fat rack up very quickly.


Tip of the Day: HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training has proven to be a much more effective fat burning and muscle sparing form of cardio than steady state, long duration cardio. If you are someone who loves long distance cardio, then by all means, continue to do what you love! Just know that if you are looking to burn fat and spare muscle, it just isn't going to happen over the long term with that type of cardio.
Long duration cardio eventually puts your body in a catabolic (muscle burning) state, because once your body has used all of your glycogen stores, it will then turn to burning your muscle for fuel. If you keep your cardio bouts to say, 20 minutes, you can effectively burn fat, increase endurance, and prevent your body from reaching the catabolic zone. 
A simple way to implement HIIT would be to do intervals of sprinting/walking on the treadmill, rather than just simply jogging at the same pace for a long period of time. If you prefer to do your cardio outdoors, you can do the same thing; sprint for 20-30 second intervals followed by 30 seconds to a minute of walking!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Eat Broccoli!

Food of the Day: Broccoli! Full of potassium and folate, as well as vitamins C, A, and B6. A super food that is a cancer fighter as well! Broccoli contains a healthy dose of fiber per cup (about 5 grams), and since it is virtually fat and sodium free and contains only about 30 calories per cup, I consider it a "free" food that does not need to be tracked (if you are tracking your calories/macronutrients). Don't overlook this vegetable, it should be a staple in your diet!

Unsaturated Fat is Best

Tip of the Day: Aim to get most of your daily fat intake from unsaturated fat sources! Yes, some saturated fat is good for keeping testosterone levels up, but for the most part you want to get your fat from sources such as olive oil, avocado, salmon, and walnuts, to name a few.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Eat Whole Eggs!

Food of the Day: WHOLE eggs! That's right, the yolk and all...a whole egg is a complete protein that gives you roughly 6-7 grams per egg, as well as beneficial fats. vitamins and minerals in the yolk. Don't worry about the cholesterol; The cholesterol in eggs does not increase your body's LDL (bad) cholesterol levels as previously touted in years past! However, if you are watching your fat intake, you can go with egg whites only.


Eat Complex Carbohydrates!

Tip of the Day: For most people, at most times of the day, complex carbohydrates are better than simple carbohydrates. Simple carbs like white bread, bagels, white rice, pasta, etc. cause a spike in insulin. They give you energy for a short period of time and then dip off dramatically. For people who do not have fast metabolisms or have decreased sensitivity to insulin, this can be a problem because the extra sugar floating around your body will most often not get used for energy, but rather stored and converted into fat. Complex carbs like oatmeal, sweet potato, lentils, brown rice, quinoa, etc. will give you sustained energy for a longer period, will not spike insulin levels as dramatically, and will also give you added fiber that you will not get from simple carbs. The added fiber is good for digestion, and will make you feel fuller longer, which will help you from over indulging.

That being said, you have to learn your body and what works for you. For example, I prefer Jasmine rice to brown rice. The calorie/nutrient values are almost identical, but I do lose out on the extra fiber that comes from brown rice. However, as someone with a fast metabolism trying to add weight, I am able to eat way more Jasmine rice than brown rice, and my body utilizes the white rice efficiently.
Even though I recommend complex carbs for most people, there is still a time when everyone can benefit from simple carbs, and that is immediately post workout. A simple carb like dextrose (corn sugar) can help shuttle protein to your muscles faster when you pair them together immediately post workout.


Monday, May 18, 2015

Eat Ezekiel bread!

Food of the Day: Ezekiel bread! Made from live, sprouted grains and containing NO flour, Ezekiel bread is a great carbohydrate source at breakfast! It is also a complete protein, so you get the benefits of some extra quality protein that you will not find with other breads. Check it out!

Get Your Protein!

Tip of the Day: In order to build new muscle or at least spare as much of your current muscle as possible, your protein intake needs to be at least 1 gram per pound of body weight. I prefer 1.5g myself. For example, if you are a 120 pound female looking to put on some muscle, I recommend eating at least 120-180 grams of protein per day!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Eat Quinoa!

Food of the Day: Quinoa! Quinoa is naturally gluten-free, contains a host of beneficial vitamins and minerals, and it is one of only a few plant foods that happens to be a complete protein! Quinoa is a great carbohydrate to substitute in place of rice, pasta, etc. It will give you sustained energy, it won't spike your insulin levels, and you will get a nice dose of quality protein!

Drink Water!

Tip of the Day: Water...drink it! Aim for half of your body weight in ounces i.e. 150b woman = 75oz a day. We know water is critical for our brain/organ function, skin health, etc., but water also plays a pivotal role in shuttling nutrients to our muscles. Drinking adequate water every day will also help to encourage weight loss, for those looking to shed a few pounds!