What’s Your Game Plan?

game_planWhat’s your game plan for today?

What are you going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?  If you’re going to the gym, which exercises are you going to do, how much are you going to lift, and how many times are you going to lift it?  Have a plan sucka!


I know in my experience, when I keep track of things (both with my diet and my exercises), I see better results and I’m pretty damn sure this isn’t a coincidence.  Tyler of 344pounds.com (who I interviewed here), lost 4.5 pounds last week after only losing 2 pounds in the previous month.  His theory on what happened:

“The week I resume counting calories is the same week I reach well into the 220s.  Coincidence?  I think not.  I’ve been counting calories for the last few days and have had an extremely clean diet (because of it?).”

I will bet a million bucks (if I had a million bucks) that there is a direct correlation between Tyler’s weight loss success and his decision to keep track of everything he ate.  Why does this happen?  You suddenly feel more responsible and accountable for what you put in your mouth.  It hurts when you have to write down 4 Krispie Kreme donuts, 3 snickers, two big macs, and an entire bag of double stuf Oreos.

Write down what you’re doing! If you’ve read my “3 important equations for fitness” article, you know that a 500 calorie daily deficit will result in a 1-pound weight loss per week.  Keep track of what you eat with a site like Daily Burn (free account): as you input your food, it keeps track of how many carbs, grams of protein, and grams of fat you’ve consumed.  Once you put in your height, weight, and goal weight, it can even tell you how many calories (approximately) you should be eating and when you’ll hit your target.

Daily Burn has certainly helped me get much better results when I track my food intake; I recommend you do the same.  It’s free, easy, and they even have an iPhone app that is supposedly pretty sweet (anybody tried the app yet?)


I’d guess less than a third of the people in a gym have any idea what they’re doing or what their goals are.  They wander around like schmoes, picking various machines and doing a quick set or walking in and doing what they always do with the same few things at the same level of resistance.

Remember: “appearance is a consequence of fitness.” Every time you walk in that gym, you should know exactly what to expect out of your body.  If you could squat 185, try for 190 today.  If you did 5 pull ups, go for 6.  If you  walk/jogged a mile in 11 minutes, go for 10:50 this time.  When you keep track of everything you’ve done, you know exactly what you need to accomplish the next time you’re in the gym.  When you’re struggling with that last pull up or push up and you know just one more is a personal best, I guarantee you’re going to bust your ass to get there.  Secondly, when you have that game plan you don’t waste time in there; you know what you need to do, you do it, and then you get the hell out of there.

I have to recommend Daily Burn to keep track of your workouts as well. You can input your exact exercises, routines, sets, reps, and total weight.  It tracks them so you know what you did last time.  I’m on Daily Burn (and I’ll admit, I’ve been slacking on tracking things and I DEFINITELY know I haven’t been getting the most out of my diet or workout because of it).

Some tips:

  • If you don’t have an iPhone, take a piece of paper and pen with you to the gym. Write down exactly what you did, and then put it into Daily Burn when you get home.  I’ve tried to remember everything and it always gets lost in the shuffle by the end of the routine.  Write it down, then type it in.
  • I’ve found that the Daily Burn doesn’t line up exactly with a Paleo Diet (if that’s your thing) when it comes to their recommendation of calories and nutrients.  Luckily, they allow you to easily adjust your percentages of carbs, proteins, and fats.
  • If you’ve never kept track of your food, try it for a week. Make it a habit by adding it to your bookmark tool bar and simply typing in your food every time you eat it.  I’d guess most of you have desk jobs so this shouldn’t be too difficult.  You’ll be surprised at your results simply by keeping track of your food.  It’s a pain in the ass, sure.  But it absolutely works.

Be my gym buddy on Daily Burnwe can keep each other accountable.


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How to Do a Perfect Dip (No Tobacco Required)

So you’re looking to build up your muscles, and you’ve learned how great it is to train with compound exercises.  Rather than isolate your chest for 5 exercises, your shoulders for 5 exercises, and triceps for 5 exercises, why not pick a few that work all three at the same time!  One such exercise is the Dip.

Now, a bodyweight dip requires you to have a pretty good base level of strength throughout your body, because you’re going to be lifting up your whole body up and down.  Yeah, the dips I’m talking about require you to grab two parallel bars, hoist yourself up, and then lower your entire body by bending your elbows.  I don’t recommend the dips where you put your feet up on something in front of you because it puts your arms and shoulders in a really weird angle and you’re just asking for injury.  So, today’s exercise is just the dips where you’re supporting your whole body weight below you.

Okay so here is what you do:

  • First of all, make sure you can do a dip. Don’t hop up there and then lower yourself unless you’re fairly confident you can get through at least one of these things.  We can’t have you tearing any muscles or falling on somebody, because that would suck ass.
  • Grab the parallel bars, and hoist yourself up. At this point look straight ahead, and contract your stomach muscles (just like you do when you do squats and deadlifts).  If you’re keeping your abs tight for all of these exercises, you’ll never have to do a crunch again and you’ll still have washboard abs.
  • Cross your legs and bend your knees if you like (so your feet are out behind you), for stability purposes, but keep your head up and look straight ahead.
  • Keeping your elbows at your side, lower yourself until your triceps are parallel to the floor. A lot of websites will recommend you go past parallel, but I think this puts too much strain on your shoulders at a weird angle and can cause injury/discomfort.  I only go down to parallel and haven’t had any issues, so I’d recommend the same.
  • Once you hit parallel, explode back up until JUST before you’re able to lock your elbows. By not locking your elbows, you keep the tension in your muscles and don’t jack up your joints.  w00t.
  • Now do another one.  And then another!

Those are dips.  By keeping your elbows as tight as possible, keep your abs tights, and keep your body in balance as you go up and down.

Dips Video

Some extra tips:

  • Don’t swing – this goes for practically every exercise.  If you start swinging your body as you go up and down, you take the emphasis off the muscles you’re actually trying to work.
  • Don’t go down past parallel – This is a point of controversy with some, but for me I’d rather not risk it.  A few months back I was teaching a client how to do dips and this out of shape guy came over to tell us that we need to be going all the way down to the floor (essentially lowering our triceps 30 degrees past parallel).  I thanked the man for his input, then went back to doing them my way.
  • Don’t flair out your elbows if you can avoid it. The more “out” your elbows are, the more emphasis on your chest.  Elbows tight = emphasis on shoulders and triceps.
  • Don’t settle for cheap substitutes – don’t use dip machines or other isolation tricep machines – These don’t recruit any of your stabilizer muscles, put your body at weird angles, and don’t give you full results.  Stick with bodyweight dips!

Now, once you can do 3 sets of 15 dips no problem, you have a few options to ramp up the difficulty:

  • Add weight – picking up a dumbbell between your feet, wearing a weighted backpack, or wearing a weight belt with some weight plates hanging off it.  At one point last year I was doing dips with a 60 pound dumbbell between my feet but it got too difficult to carry it with my feet, and it started to bother my shoulders.  I’d recommend a weight belt or backpack if you’re going to do dips with heavy weight.
  • Your other option, and the better option in my opinion – GO SLOW – keep your abs tight, and lower yourself ridiculously slowly.  Your body will have to recruit every muscle in your chest, shoulders, and triceps (including all stabilizer muscles) to keep your body under control.  Personally, I would do dips without weight after you’ve already done an exercise like Incline Dumbbell Presses.  Rather than add weight, do them slowly and safely.

There you have it: a great bodyweight exercise that will have your triceps popping out in no time (provided there isn’t too much body fat covering them).  If you have limited time in the gym or at your house, you can work out every muscle in your body with these three exercises:

Look at that, in just three exercises you’ve done a complete full body workout.  Crank that workout out in 20 minutes, and then go play some Halo.


5 Gym Species You Want to Punch in the Face

For those of you who have gym memberships, I’d thought we’d have some fun with the species that occupy the Gyminal Kingdom (see what I did there?).  I’ve probably been a member at eight or nine different gyms, and the stereotypes are the same everywhere.  I almost feel sorry for them…but I’d rather make fun of them here in the blog because I can!  Internet FTW.

meathead1) Meatheadius Narcissium – This guy makes sure every exercise is in front of a mirror or audience. In between sets he’s checking himself out, checking to make he looks really good.  This dude LOVES himself.  Generally you can find him doing one of these three exercises: bench presses, bicep curls, or sit ups, because all he really cares about is his chest, biceps, and abs, which are probably comically oversized at this point.  You’d like to make fun of him to his face, but he’s so dis-proportioned that you don’t know where to begin… and he could probably pummel you because he also probably has a serious case of roid rage buildling up.  Put the guns away, Chief.

wind-up-teeth2) Talkium-Way-TOO-Muchus – These guys usually come in pairs. They sit down on a weight bench or popular machine and then spend 15 effing minutes in between each set talking about the stupidest **** ever.  When you walk over and ask if they’re done (because it looks like they are), they’ll say “oh, we still have 8 sets left.”  Shut your mouth Jabroni, do your exercises, and get the hell out of there.  If you’re gonna chat up a storm, do it AFTER you’re done lifting or in between exercises so you’re not holding up everybody else.  Nobody cares who won Dancing with Stars the other night either.

knowitall_header3) Expertum Incorrectus – The know-it-all.  He goes around and tells everybody what they’re doing wrong, and how he can do it better.  These guys are the most dangerous if you’re not careful, because if I had to bet my life savings on it I’d guess they’re probably wrong.  Look in a gym, and you’ll see at least half the people in there doing exercises improperly.  I’ve had people tell me how to do squats (which screwed up my back when I took their advice), how to do dips (which would have destroyed my shoulder had I listened to them), and pretty much every other exercise out there.  Everyone’s a critic, everybody thinks they know what’s best for you, and everybody is quick to pass along information, no matter how wrong it is.  Stick to your guns, do your research, and ask a professional at the club if you have a question…although many trainers don’t know what they’re doing either.

shrek4) Ogre-Personificus – This is the gym equivalent of the attention whore.  Listen, I know sometimes you need to let out a grunt when you’re lifting a sh**-load of weight, but does it really need to be loud enough for everybody in the gym to hear it?   You can usually find these guys lifting weights and almost yelling between each rep, followed by them loudly dropping their weights on the floor and then walking around like William Wallace.  We get it Braveheart, you’re the man.  As long as you’re not dropping weights on your face because of this guy, he’s almost funny enough to watch.

Mullet terrorist5) Sweatpantus Creepiatum  – This is the guy in sweatpants in the back of the yoga room who doesn’t actually bother doing the stretches, the guy who sees a girl on a treadmill and starts walking right next to her even though there are 15 others open, and the guy who spends most of his time staring and ogling rather than exercising.  Dude, you’re creeping everybody out.  No you shouldn’t go up to her and tell her how many arm curls you can do (it’s a DEEP BURN, as Ron Burgundy would say).  You shouldn’t even stalk her when she comes out of the locker room.  She’s there to exercise, which is why YOU should be there, so do your thing and let her do hers.  There’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it, and you’re definitely not doing it right.

fat spandexSpandexa Unflatterium (honorable mention)– the girl in the spandex and sports bra who really shouldn’t be wearing stuff like that out in public.  Ladies, we’re happy that you’re comfortable in your own body, but don’t make us be comfortable with it too.  I guess the male equivalent would be Homer Simpson walking around in booty shorts.  Wear whats comfortable, but do it within reason.  I have a LOT of respect for a bigger person in the gym exercising trying to get better, but be appropriate about it!

Now, these dudes (and girl) are probably the reason many of you avoid gyms in the first place…unless you’re one of these species.  If that’s the case, STOP IT.  Now, I’ve learned to ignore these people by listening to my iPod, keeping my head down, and getting in and out of the gym as quickly as possible.  I recommend you do the same, but feel free to laugh at these people if you need a pick-me-up.  After all, if we can’t laugh at ourselves, then we should probably laugh at others.  That’s a joke, by the way.

Who am I not making fun of that I should be?  Who got left out?


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What If It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?

Picture 1“If the members of the American medical establishment were to have a collective find-yourself-standing-naked-in-Times-Square-type nightmare, this might be it.”

So begins one of the most thought-provoking articles I have read in a long time.  Written by Gary Taube, “What If It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie” was featured in the New York Times back in 2002 and has been causing all kinds of controversy ever since.  Today’s post is extremely short because I want you to read this article.  That’s right, I’m giving you homework.  Read it at work, read it at home, print it out and read it on the toilet, whatever floats your boat.

Being the skeptic that I am, I searched for responses that discredit Taubes.  I immediately found Michael Fumento’s rebuttal to this article here, followed by Gary’s rebuttal to the rebuttal here, and then Fumento’s rebuttal of the rebuttal to the rebuttal.  Personally, I think we should just put Taubes and Fumento in a steel cage and let them duke it out.  Now it’s your turn: I’d love to hear your thoughts on the article and whether you think Gary is absolutely correct, a complete wackjob, or somewhere in between.

I’ll post my complete thoughts on this back-and-forth debate in the comments section at the end of the day (I’ll be away from a computer for the whole day), but I want to hear from you guys before I jump into the fray.


PS – Gary has written a book that details this theory more elaborately: Good Calories, Bad Calories.

Exercise Every Muscle in Your Body in 15 Minutes

I went to the gym on Sunday night and I failed to realize that the gym closes really early on that day.  I literally had 20 minutes in the gym before they turned off all the lights, so I put together a quick routine to work out every single muscle in my body.  If you don’t have a gym membership, read the end of this post for the 15-minute bodyweight workout.  See that? Everybody wins!

weight_lifting_bodybuilding_cartoon_squat_aa_ezrSquats– I have a love/hate relationship with squats.  Most of the time I hate them, but I love how I feel afterward.  My legs hate squats, but they love it when I can lift even more weight the next time.  Plus, when you do squats with perfect form, you work every muscle in your leg, lower back, AND your abs.  After a quick 2 minute warm-up (rapid fire jumping jacks to get my heart racing and muscles warm), I did three sets of Squats (reps of 10, 8, 6) waiting one minute between sets.  Each time I added weight to the bar.  To read about perfect squats and why you need to do them, read my squats article here.

Incline dumbbell press – Grab a weightlifting bench, and set the angle at 45 degrees or so.  Grab two dumbbells, and press them up above your head as if you were doing an incline benchpress with a barbell.  Three sets of 12, 10, 8 (increasing weight, one minute between sets).  This exercise works your chest, shoulders, and triceps.  Concentrate on perfect form, and don’t lower your upper arms past parallel (to the floor).  Bring your hands in together at the top so you almost clink the two dumbbells together.

brown_cat_pull_upsPull ups and chin ups – Find a bar, grab it with either an overhand or underhand grip, and pull yourself up.  Overhand grip (palms away from you) will work your back more than your biceps, and an underhand grip (palms facing you) will work your biceps more than your back.  Do a set of overhand grip pull ups until exhaustion, wait a minute, do another set of overhand grip pull ups until exhaustion, wait a minute, then do a set of underhand chin ups until exhaustion.  Make sure you go all the way down (just before locking out your arms), and get way above the bar on the top, or it doesn’t count!  If you can’t do a full pull up yet, read this article (with video) on how to build up to them.

Want to burn even more fat while you’re at it? Do this whole routine as a giant circuit (you can ready more about circuit training here).  Keep the weight the same for each set, but go in this order:

  • Squats – 12 reps
  • Incline Chest Press – 12 reps
  • Pull ups – as many as you can.
  • 30 jumping jacks

Do this cycle 3 times, without stopping.  15 minutes, build muscle and burn fat.  Not too shabby!

No Gym? Do body-weight squats or lunges (with your hands behind your head, prisoner style), and then do decline push ups (with your feet up on your bed or a chair or something).  Stick with regular pull ups.   For a more accurate description on how to do these exercises, read my article on body weight exercises, “No Gym? No Problem!

Pretty damn simple, pretty damn effective.


Why I Ate Chicken For Breakfast

For the first time in my life, I ate chicken for breakfast this morning.

Picture 2Yeah, it was a little weird.  After years of cereal, bagels, muffins, donuts, and/or high-calorie meal replacement shakes for breakfast, I’m working on this whole Paleo/Primal diet thing, (which I wrote about recently).  I think it’s going to be a gradual transition from my old diet to a new one, but I’m pretty excited about it.  I’ve spent the past four years of my life stuffing my face with 3500 calories a day, drinking expensive shakes, shoveling pounds of pasta and very few fruits or vegetables into my mouth.  It was exhausting, expensive, and frustrating having to eat every 2 hours.

Since I started reading the Paleo Diet book and The Primal Blueprint, I’ve made a few realizations about my diet that I’m changing.   I never realized how truly detrimental and pervasive sugar is.  It’s in freaking everything!  Yeah, even the “healthy” stuff.  Take a look at a loaf of “100% whole wheat bread” and you’ll probably find High Fructose Corn Syrup as one of the top five ingredients.  I know when I went to the store last night it was on the whole wheat bread I used to eat.

This is a big change for me: instead of trying to bulk up, I’m going trim down while building muscle and see where that leaves me.  Rather than shoveling bad food into my mouth to put on weight, I’m going to cut as much processed food, simple carbs, and sugar from my diet during the week.  That means no more spaghetti and PB sandwiches, two things I’ve eaten almost every day since I was five.  In place of that, I’m going to stick with lean meats, LOTS of chicken, TONS of asparagus, and salads.  I’ve been eating like a little kid forever, and I think it’s time to finally expand my food horizons and grow up a bit.  I think I bought like  six kinds of vegetables at the store last night – the old me didn’t even know six kinds of vegetables existed.

So what’s my plan now? As of this morning I weigh 177 lbs, and my body fat percentage is right around 9%.  It was at 11% a few weeks back before adjusting my diet, so I can tell it’s already working.  I have a hunch I’ll actually look bigger at 175 with 6% BF compared to 185 at 11%.  Now, as I make my adjustment to a healthier diet, I do have some concerns:

  • I’m going to get bored really quickly. If I eat chicken for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, things are going to get old quickly.  Steaks are expensive, but now that I’m not buying tubs of supplements and 4 gallons of milk a week, it might actually fit into my budget.  I’m going to have to start eating fish at some point, and this scares me because I’m not a fan at all.  Any recommendations on the best fish to start out with would be helpful.
  • I’m going to lose a LOT of weight. Cutting out most carbs like breads, rice, and pasta are going to severely drop my calorie count.  A big serving of rice can have 15-20 times the number of calories of a big serving of asparagus.  This is where walnuts, almonds, and occasionally oatmeal will come in handy, but for a guy trying to gain/maintain weight, this is going to be tough.
  • I won’t have enough energy to get through the day and do my workouts – I’ve already noticed that my last few work outs haven’t been as good because I’ve had less energy going into them.  Luckily I just picked up The Paleo Diet for Athletes, and I’ll be reading that on my flight out to Colorado this weekend.  This book deals with athletes on the paleo diet and how they eat before and after exercising to maintain energy and build muscle.  Full review coming soon.
  • Not enough Calcium – now that I’m not chugging Milk by the gallon, I’m worried I’m just not going to get enough calcium and my bones will suffer (no not my bones!).  Luckily, the author of the Paleo Diet, Loren Cordain, addresses this exact issue here.  I’m certainly not giving up dairy completely, but it will be at a pretty large departure from where I was at a month ago.

We’ll see how this goes.  I plan on sticking with the plan for the next two weeks and then reevaluating.  I still plan on drinking a few beers, eating un-primal, playing bags (cornhole, corntoss, whatever you want to call it), and watching football on the weekends (read yesterday’s post), so that means I need to be super dedicated during the week.  I’m going to keep having fun, just adjust my diet slightly and see where it takes me.

Why am I doing this? Some people (my mom included) have said “what’s wrong with how you look now?”  Really, I like how I look now, I’m just interested to see how strong I can get and where I can get to in terms of efficiency (body fat percentage).  Remember, “appearance is a consequence of fitness.”  If this makes me healthier, function better in the gym,  have more energy, and makes me look good, why the hell wouldn’t I try it?

I’ll keep everybody informed on how things go over the next few weeks, but I promise I won’t dominate this blog with just ALL PALEO ALL THE TIME stuff.  Everybody is at different stages in their lives, careers, and levels of fitness and diet, and I’ll keep that in mind with my writing.

And here we….go!


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What We Can Learn from Billy Madison

If you live in the US, you probably just finished up with a long weekend.

homer_simpsonI’m going to guess you went to the beach, or sat by a pool, probably stayed up too late, ate way too much BBQ, and probably drank your fair share of Bud Lights.  You woke up this morning feeling like crap and maybe even a little guilty for not strictly following your diet and going to the gym.


You’re still alive right?  Did you have fun?  In my opinion, memories and experiences are what make life worth living.  You won’t remember the night you ate a spinach salad and went to bed early, but you’ll certainly remember the night you stayed up with your best friends until four in the morning drinking beers and telling stories about college.  Exercise and diet are meant to enhance your standard of living, not completely overtake it so that you don’t have any fun.

My roommate had five friends come into town, and I spent most of the weekend watching college football with them (and had an awesome doing so).  I ate probably a dozen burgers, drank plenty of beer, didn’t sleep much, and spent far too much time playing Excite-Bots, a ridiculously illogical game for the Wii that makes no sense and yet has me completely addicted.  At 12:30 last night I finally got an S ranking (which is for some reason better than A) on all courses on all difficulties, so now I can finally reclaim my life and get back to business.

This should be your course of action for today: realize you had a great weekend and pick up right where you left off. Unless you made the decision to start doing hardcore drugs or kill a hooker, you can’t do too much damage to yourself in just a few days.  Didn’t sleep enough?  Go to sleep early tonight.  Skipped exercising?  Hit up the gym today.  Ate too much? Go back to eating in moderation right now.  Most importantly, don’t let a long weekend cause you to get derailed.  To quote Billy Madison, one of the finest films of our generation:

Whoa whoa whoa, Miss Lippy. The part of the story I don’t like is that the little boy gave up looking for Happy after an hour. He didn’t put posters up or anything, he just sat on the porch like a goon and waited. That little boy’s gotta think ‘You got a pet. You got a responsibility.’ If your dog gets lost you don’t look for an hour then call it quits. You get your ass out there and you find that f***ing dog.

Picture 1Let’s put this in context. So you lost your way a little bit this weekend; don’t let it destroy all of the progress you’ve made.  If you had a (fun) lapse and ate three bags of sun chips and fourteen hot dogs, don’t sit there like a goon and beat yourself up over it.  You simply get your ass out there, and you lift some f***ing weights!  Or run a f***ing mile!  Or climb a f***ing mountain!  Whatever it is you do to stay active, f***ing do it!

For future long weekends, it’s okay indulge a little; just don’t let it send you off the deep end. Take your kids out to get ice cream.  Go to a bar and watch football and drink beer.  Eat a whole bag of chips.  In fact, some studies have shown that giving yourself a day of extra calories causes your efficient metabolism to work extra hard to burn them, which actually carries over to the next few days when you return to eating healthy, which will cause you to lose MORE weight (read about Tim Ferriss’s support of this practice here).  I don’t know if this is true or not, but hey, it might make you feel a little better about drinking beers and playing Halo every once and a while.

Live a little.  This is the only chance we get.  Now get back on that f***ing horse!


Speaking of Billy Madison, here is my favorite scene.  It starts about halfway into the clip.

Billy Madison YouTube Clip

Vibram FiveFingers: First Impressions

Picture 2I finally got my Vibrams yesterday!

Last week I wrote about these crazy-ass FiveFinger shoes as an alternative to wearing expensive cushion-y running shoes.  I found a store in town that carried them, and picked up a pair late last night.  If you’re looking into getting some, I would HIGHLY recommend finding a place near you that sells them if possible so you can try them on before hand.  You can search for locations that carry them on Vibram’s site here. According to the sizing chart on Vibram’s site, I was between a 42 and 43.  After trying on a pair of each at the store, 42’s couldn’t even fit my toes, and 43’s fit perfectly.  Call around to the different stores and see if they have your sizes. Even if they don’t have the color you want, get the size right and then go home and order online.

Picture 3I went with the Black KSO’s (“Keep s*** out”). If I had to describe how these things feel; it’s like wearing a wetsuit on your feet.  Very snug, but somehow still extremely mobile.  Looking down and running around for a few minutes, I can’t decide if I feel more like a Ninja or a gorilla.  Maybe a ninja gorilla, which is absurd – there’s no way humans would still be in power if ninja gorillas existed…but that’s neither here nor there.  Oh, and I also tried to do the thing like the person in this picture, but my toes aren’t nearly that spread apart yet.  Maybe one day. 

Running in Vibrams is DEFINITELY going to take some getting used to: I ran through the parking lot on the way to the gym, and I felt like a jackass because my running style had to change completely.  Instead of the long strides and heel-toe style, now it’s short strides, lands on the balls of your feet, and keep pushing.  I can see my calf muscles absolutely KILLING me after just a small jog, but that excited the hell out of me.  I have skinny legs so I figure making my calves strong as hell isn’t a bad side effect.

In the gym, I felt odd. And not just because of the weird looks I got from everybody in there, but because I really felt like I was walking around barefoot.  I only did three exercises at the gym because I only had 30 minutes – each felt slightly different compared to when working out in sneakers.  Doing deadlifts, I felt more in balance and actually managed to lift a new personal high.  Then, I did some (standing) shoulder barbell presses and felt a little wobbly with my feet, but I’m confident my feet and ankles will grow in strength along with the rest of my muscles.  I then ended with few sets of pull ups, and did a few more reps than normal.  I think doing pull ups in the vibrams really showed me how much fun these shoes are: it really felt like I was exercising in bare feet.

I’m already a convert. I’m actually looking forward to running this weekend, and I hate running.  Whenever I put on my FiveFingers, I just want to jump up and down, climb things, do some free-running, and then compete on Ninja Warrior.  Want to know how versatile these shoes are?  I typed this entire blog post with my feet while wearing them.

Okay that’s a lie, but that would have been cool, right? Check back next week when I write about my first running experiences.  I won’t be blogging on Monday because it’s a holiday here in the US, so see you Tuesday.


Interview with Tyler of 344pounds.com

A few weeks back, I got an email from a Nerd Fitness reader who told me about a website that really inspired him, 344pounds.com.

I went and checked out the site. I was blown away by the amount of success the site’s creator, Tyler,  has had in such a short amount of time (see his transformation pictures here).  In 8 months, Tyler has lost over 110 pounds, and plans on losing another 40.  Considering how motivated he is, I have no doubt he’ll get there.  I reached out to Tyler asking if he’d answer a few questions for my readers, because I bet a lot of you guys might be in the same boat.  Hopefully this will show you what’s possible when you use common sense and stay dedicated!

Nerd Fitness: Hey Tyler, thanks for answering some questions for my readers.  Let’s talk about a typical day for you before you decided to change your life.


Tyler: Sedentary all day.  I’d either skip breakfast or get a large french toast combo from Burger King (near my work).  This consisted of french toast sticks, hashbrowns, and a coke — probably nearly 1,000 calories.  For lunch I’d eat out again and have some sort of sandwich with fries and a coke, followed by a large afternoon snack when I got home from work around 4-5.  Dinner was meat and potatoes with 2nd and 3rd helpings, and of course, several sodas to wash it down.  I’d end the day by playing Xbox 360 (now sold) or watching television.

NF: I know a lot of people that can relate to that.  What was your motivation to make that change?  What put you over the edge?

T: No one event put me over the edge — but I do remember the day I decided to change.  I was at my desk at work and it just “clicked” — I was tired of being fat.  I still had some of my breakfast from Burger King that I was eating and threw that away, went to the mirror in the bathroom and was simply disgusted.  I vowed to change and I did.

NF: Describe a typical day now.


T: Morning consists of either Raisin bran and fruit or a cooked meal consisting of toast, bacon, and eggs, depending on my time.  I also take a multi-vitamin every morning.  I’ll also have a mid-morning snack of fruit or some vegetable, followed by a lunch with a sandwich and very fries or chips.  On some days I’ll just have a couple of tuna sandwiches or PB&Js, but again, I don’t like eating rabbit food.  I like to eat good food.  Dinner consists of meat and potatoes still, but hold the seconds and the several refills of soda.  A couple of hours after dinner, about 8-9 PM, I’ll go to the gym and work out for 30-60 minutes.

NF: I like that your transformation wasn’t a complete 180, just a sensible diet and exercise.  Alright, if you had to pick one thing, what had the most impact on your weight loss?

T: 344Pounds.com being talked about by the media — but that answer doesn’t help most people, so I’ll say losing the soda [NF note: I agree, soda is a real killer].  You definitely need to moderately drink soda and drink water as much as possible.  You don’t have to eliminate, just moderate.

NF: Moderation ftw!  Had you tried losing weight in the past?  If you had failed then, what has made you succeed now?

T: Like most people, I have. Dozens of times. However, I’ve never lost more than a few pounds before this attempt — and this time I’ve lost more than 100.  It’s funny the way things work out sometimes.  And my success this time can be attributed to my accountability.  You don’t need a blog, you just need to tell family and friends.  It’s scary, but that’s the idea.

NF: I actually recently wrote an article about accountability, so your success makes a lot of sense.  Alright, onto the nerd stuff: favorite videogame of all time?

T: I’m pretty involved in my company, a father and a husband, so I don’t have a lot of free time these days.  By far though my favorite video game of all time would be Command and Conquer on PC — Red Alert 2:  Yuri’s Revenge, specifically.

NF: Man, I always sucked at C&C. Starcraft was more my thing.  Are you playing any game right now?

T: On the Wii, the new sports game Wii Sports Resort.

NF: If you could have one superpower, what would it be, and why?

T: Flying.  I tried my hardest to fly one night in the backyard when I was like 8 years old.  I had a cape on (towel) and I had a brick to jump off to give me some “momentum.” That night didn’t end well and that was the last time I tried to fly.

NF: Hahaha, glad you survived that. What’s your movie to live by?

T: Boogie Nights.

NF: Fair enough.  Thanks again for passing on your story to the world.   Before you go, do you have any specific advice for other guys in the same boat, trying to lose a large amount of weight?

T: Don’t follow a diet — just count your calories and you’ll lose weight.

So there ya have it!  I think my favorite thing about Tyler’s success is that he really didn’t make too many drastic changes.  You can find stories about people who give up everything they love to eat and start exercising eight hours a day, but those goals are unrealistic.  If you’re a big guy or girl, here’s legitimate proof and motivation of what you can accomplish in a short amount of time if you use common sense and STICK WITH IT!

You can follow Tyler’s journey over at 344pounds.com and on twitter at Twitter.com/344pounds.


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The Most Depressing Sandwich in the World?

It’s like they’re trying to kill you.

Picture 1Our friends over at KFC, fresh off the campaign to put healthier grilled chicken on the menu, have decided to reclaim the ‘are you kidding me’ throne from Taco Bell by introducing one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen.  Take a bunch of bacon, cover it in melted cheese, douse it in Colonel’s Sauce (I don’t know what’s in his sauce, and I don’t want to know), and then bookend it with two deep fried chicken patties instead of a bun.  It’s called the “Double Down,” and it will wreak havoc on your stomach, your arteries, and eventually your plumbing.

Now, for those of you salivating at the thought of this fantastically atrocious creation (my buddy Jordan comes to mind), you’re going to have to wait your turn.  At the moment, it’s only available in Rhode Island and Nebraska, but the way this country is getting fatter I’m confident it’ll do well and will be available from coast to coast. USA! USA! Check out this surprisingly funny MSNBC video about the Double Down:

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MSNBC Video on the Double Down Sandwich

It’s really not the end of the world if you eat one of these things (you can do far worse when it comes to calories and nutrition), but come on, look at that thing!  I’d like to think if you have a shred of dignity or self-respect, you can’t walk into a KFC and order one of these with a straight face.  Congrats Colonel Sanders, you’ve clearly outdone yourself this time.  If you want to see pictures of what the sandwich looks like in real life, check out the food geekery.  I guess you can add the Double Down to the KFC famous bowl, to the list of most depressing foods in the world.  Check out comedian Patton Oswald’s take on the Famous Bowl (lots of F-bombs, but effing hilarious):

Patton Oswald on the KFC Famous Bowl

I’ll never forget the last time I went to a KFC. I had just accepted my job with Sixthman in Atlanta, and I was driving there all the way from San Diego.  Now, obviously out on the road, you don’t get to be picky about your food choices and the trip was already less than optimal, considering I was in a car with no heat or air conditioning.  I hadn’t eaten all day as I drove through New Mexico…which smells like horse poop, by the way.  The entire state. I’m sorry if you’re from there, but it does.  Anyways, the only thing open I could find open at midnight before pulling into a motel was a KFC/Taco Bell hybrid restaurant.  That’s right! Two healthy choices in one!

I hadn’t eaten fast food for probably six months prior to this night, but I figured, “what’s the worst thing that could happen?”  I ordered the two taco & three chicken strips combo and a bottle of water.  It was actually quite tasty, and it went down easy enough.  I found a motel, checked in, and tried to get a good night’s sleep before my 14 hour drive the next day.

I woke up with a brick in my stomach.  KFC/Taco Bell:1, Steve: 0.

Of course, because I had a long ass drive to Houston to meet up with my friend Cash, and the ‘brick’ certainly wasn’t moving anywhere, I hopped on I-10 and started driving east.  I entered the state of Texas on I-10 at exit 1,  and left I-10 at exit 740.  For that entire ride (which felt like an eternity), I drove with my legs tucked up in the fetal position and the car in cruise control (luckily the posted speed limit was 80mph and I was the only car on the road).  I don’t think I have ever had a more miserable day in my life.

Please, if you’re on a road trip, be careful what you eat.  Use your GPS if you can and find a grocery store.  Run in and grab some good food, hit up the salad bar, check their ‘hot lunch’ or ‘hot dinner’ options, whatever makes you happy.  If you NEED to eat fast food, aim for the stuff that’s going to do the least amount of damage to your insides.  It’s funny, but once you give up fast food, after a while you don’t even miss it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m road tripping to Rhode Island for a Double Down….naht.


My 4 Favorite Dumb Fitness Infomericals

I’m constantly amazed at the stupidity of some people.

I laugh/cringe when I see the three products created below.  Think of how many people have to approve such a thing and go: “yes, let’s manufacture thousands of these.”  Unfortunately, these marketers looking to cash in on the get-fit-quick hopes of most people, and because people keep buying these things…companies will keep making them.  It’s hilarious to watch these things, and it’s also really sad to think how many people actually get suckered in.

Hawaii Chair: fat-asses, fear not! You can sit in this chair while eating ho-hos at work and the pounds will just shed off. I mean, look at the beautiful people in the infomercial! This might be my favorite product of all-time:

Hawaii Chair Infomercial

Want to see how ridiculous these things truly are?  Check out Olivia Munn from G4TV sitting in one on Attack of the Show.

AromaTrim: Want to stop eating that cookie? Want to only eat half a pan of brownies instead of all of them? Just smell this piece of plastic! Sounds f***ing ridiculous right? Because it is!

AromaTrim Infomercial

Ab Circle Pro – Want to get six pack abs but don’t actually want to work for it?  In only 3 minutes a day you can develop those washboard abs, get rid of your love handles, and make you look like Ryan Reynolds!  What they don’t tell you is unless you drastically overhaul your diet, you’ll never see those abs.  In fact, you probably have abs right now, even if your beer gut resembles a keg…they’re just buried under 35% of body fat.

Ab Circle Pro Video

Rejuvenique Face Mask: Always wanted to live out your Friday the 13th or Man in the Iron Mask fantasy?  Want to scare the **** out of the neighborhood children!?  Just put on this creepy facemask, send shockwaves through it, and BAM all your wrinkles are gone.  This is awesome on so many levels:

Rejuvenique Face Mask

Guys, if it seems too good to be true, it’s because it is.  You don’t get results quick and easy.  It takes a healthy diet and steady exercise (your diet being the most important aspect) to get any sort of significant results, so don’t bother wasting your money on any product unless you’ve done legitimate research on how valid its success really is.

Be smart.

What’s your favorite infomercial?


Back in Action

I’m back!

After a week at home on Cape Cod, doing almost nothing for the entire time, I’m back in Atlanta and ready to get back into my routine.  I didn’t have a gym membership up there and I didn’t feel like paying 15 bucks for a single-day pass at the gym in town (WHICH IS RIDICULOUS), so I decided I’d take a week off from lifting weights and let my muscles go on vacation as well.  Let’s start things off with the two major developments that came out of my trip back home:

The Paleo Diet

grokI read Loren Cordain’s “The Paleo Diet” on my plane ride home.  After reading about so many benefits of this diet, I decided that I’m going to give it a shot (after another week of food preparation and research on the diet).  Tomorrow’s post will try to poke holes in the Paleo Diet, as I scour the internet and medical journals for reasons to go against the diet.  The most scathing review I found of Cordain’s book is here, but I’m not wholly convinced of the critiquing author’s issues with the diet.  More research is necessary.

Personally, my concerns are that as somebody who’s trying to build muscle mass, the Paleo Diet will actually cause me to lose weight, the opposite of what I want.  I know the weight I’ll be losing is fat, which isn’t a bad thing, so once I start the diet I’ll take both pictures and measurements before and after to quantify my results.  Next, I’m a really picky eater which means I’ll be struggling to find enough variation in my meals to stay motivated on this diet.  However, this could also work out really well for me, forcing me to try all kinds of new, paleo-approved foods.  Lastly, I plan on researching the effect of the Paleo Diet on life expectancy, considering Japan has one of the highest life expectancies in the World and a typical Japanese diet is loaded with rice, a Paleo no-no.

I placed an order this afternoon for Loren Cordain’s follow up book, “The Paleo Diet for Athletes,” along with Mark Sisson’s “The Primal Blueprint” and I’ll have reviews up here on the site when I finish them.  Although I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go completely Paleo (come on, my favorite food is Chicken Parm), I’m very interested to see how my body deals with this new diet.  Cutting out dairy and grains is going to be difficult, but I can’t promote something on this site unless my full support is behind it, so I’ll be taking the plunge when ready.  I expect to eventually find a happy balance between the Paleo diet and moderate consumption of whole grains, oatmeal, skim milk, etc.  We’ll see!

Vibram Five Fingers

vibram2My friend Saint, who will be embarking on this Paleo-Diet trial with me in a week or two, is one step ahead of me in the caveman lifestyle: he owns Vibram 5-finger shoes, and I’m jealous as hell.  For those of you who don’t know, Vibram Five Fingers were Time Magazine’s 2007 invention of the year.  Everybody who I know who owns a pair swears by them.  Tim Ferriss, Life-Hacker and Author of the 4-Hour Workweek, wrote a fantastic piece on the shoes that really opened my eyes to the world of barefoot running.  If you have 10 minutes, make sure you read the article, because it will probably make you want to buy a pair as well.  Alleged side-effects of wearing Virbams include: improved posture, elimination of chronic lower back pain, decreased joint inflammation, decrease in injuries related to running, increased strength and stability in every muscle of your legs and feet, and an improved social life because everybody will come up to you and ask about them.  Sounds good to me!

Of course, I didn’t read about all the benefits of barefoot running until recently, which means the two pairs of Nike’s I bought three months ago will soon be collecting dust.  I’ve never been a huge fan of running, but that might change once I pick up a pair of Vibrams this afternoon (as long as the store in Atlanta has my size and style).

Here’s another benefit of Vibrams that hadn’t occurred to me until yesterday – when doing exercises like squats and deadlifts, many serious trainers and powerlifters would recommend that you lift weights barefoot.  Obviously most gyms won’t let you go barefoot for sanitary/safety reasons, so I’m excited to wear my five fingers to the gym on my next deadlift day and see how my lifts are affected.

Paleo and frog feet, here I come.


That’s It, I’m Going Primal. Who’s With Me?

Sorry the updates this week have been late, I’ve been on vacation up in Cape Cod and decided sleeping in was of the utmost importance.  Regular updates around 8AM will begin again next week.  I hung out with my buddy Saint yesterday (the programmer who lost 33 lbs in 12 weeks), and he told me that although the first 33 pounds came off quickly for him, the last 15 he wants to lose have been a big pain in the ass.  Ultimately, he wants to weigh around 185-190 lbs, and he’s stuck at 205.

After reading The Paleo Diet on my flight home last Friday, I called up Saint and told him that I might have found the solution he needed it comes to getting rid of those last few pounds.  A few weeks back I wrote an article on Primal Living, and I think I’m ready to take the plunge.  I’ve read case study after case study about all the amazing side effects of just eating lean meats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts.  For example, “…by eating the foods that we are genetically adapted to eat, followers of the Paleo Diet are naturally lean, have acne-free skin, improved athletic performance, and are experiencing relief from numerous metabolic-related and autoimmune diseases.”  It’s going to be extremely challenging for me, but I figured if Saint and I are trying it together, even though he’ll be in Massachusetts and I’ll be in Atlanta, we’ll be able to motivate each other and stay on track.

Now, I do have quite a few concerns, so I’m going to take next week when I get back to Atlanta to get my ducks in a row before jumping in head first into a paleolithic diet:

  • I’m trying to gain weight! Cutting out all of these high calorie grains might make that difficult.
  • I love cereal. I go through boxes of cereal and gallons of milk every week.
  • Spaghetti! I freaking love spaghetti and eat it every damn day for lunch.
  • I don’t like a lot of vegetables, and fish isn’t my thing. Looks like that’s going to have to change.

So, as you can see I have quite the uphill battle ahead of me. I envision lots and lots of chicken, lettuce, asparagus, and frozen strawberries.  I’m going to have to get really creative when it comes to using my blender.  I’ll have to add enough healthy stuff in there and enough frozen fruit that I can’t taste the non-delicious stuff.


Why am I doing this? Well, I figured I can’t promote a diet on this site until I’ve actually tried it myself.  Beginning next Sunday (Sep. 6th), I’ll take all of my measurements (weight, body fat percentage, etc.) and then give this thing a two week trial run.  I hope I don’t lose too much weight, but my guess (and hope) is that I’ll probably lose 5 lbs in this experiment, but it will just be extra body fat (from all the carbs and gallons of milk I’ve been consuming all year long), and I’ll just be left with muscle.  Although I put their picture up there, hopefully I don’t end up looking like Fred or Barney.

Oh, and I plan on picking up a pair of Vibram Five-Fingers next week to get me in the Paleo-Primal spirit. I figured if Mark from the Primal Blueprint, Tim Ferriss of the 4 Hour Workweek, my friend Kappy, and Saint all swear by these things, it’s time for me to jump on the barefoot bandwagon.  I’ll be getting the Black KSO’s, because they’ll make me feel like more of a Ninja, getting me one step closer to my dream of competing on Ninja Warrior.  Expect a full review soon once I give them a shot.

I’m both scared and excited. Leading up to Sunday, I’ll be writing posts on what I’m doing to prepare, and then I’ll start writing posts that update how I’m feeling through the whole process.

Anybody else interested in trying out the Primal diet?  Have more questions about what you can and can’t eat?  Do any of you have Vibram 5-Fingers, and what do you think of them?

Leave in the comments below.


Role Playing, Genetics, and Fitness. OH MY!

worldofwarcraftWe’re all different.

Some of us are big, some of us are skinny, some of us right in the middle.  Some of us are tall, some of us are short, some of us have fast metabolisms, some of us have slow metabolism.  Despite all of these differences, we’re all after the same thing: to love and be loved, to live a long life full of family and friends, and have a job or passion that makes us excited to wake up every single day.  Due to our genetic make-up, the ‘long life’ and “to be loved” part of your goals might be tougher than others.  If you have a family history of alcoholism, diabetes, and heart disease, you are going to be at higher risk for those issues.  If you were raised by two parents who were both overweight, chances are you’re probably overweight as well because you were raised in that type of environment.

You can’t chose who your parents are, and you can’t control your genetics.  It’s like playing a MMORPG like World of Warcraft or Everquest.  You go to the character select screen, you close your eyes, and you click the “random” button.  The game rolls an imaginary set of dice and you end up with a completely random creation.  You really wanted to be a Half-Elf but ended up with an Ogre?  Tough ****.  You were hoping for an Iksar (lizard dude) and you ended up with a Fae (fairy race)?  Tough ****.  (These are EQ terms by the way, I never got into WoW).  After the initial disappointment settles, you learn about your race and character class and adapt your play style to have the most fun with it.

Life is no different. The body and genetics you have now are the ones you were born with.  You can either complain about your genetically ‘slow metabolism’ or the fact that you ‘can’t gain weight no matter what,’ or you can accept the fact that this is who YOU are.  You may have a crooked nose, big ears, bad eyesight, whatever.  Unless you want to pay for plastic surgery and liposuction (which is cheating, boooo), this is who you are, and this what you have to work with.  Make the most of it!

Picture 1What do you want to be when you grow up? I don’t care if you’re 40 years old and 400 lbs, you still have plenty of growin’ up to do.  You can blame the fact that you’re overweight on your dad and grandfather being overweight, or play the hand you’re dealt and start doing something about it!  There’s always going to be somebody who has it easier than you, who rolled a better character in this RPG we called life.  Who cares?  They got lucky, and you didn’t.  It happens.  Some people win the lottery, the rest of us are stuck finding other ways to make a living.  Those people who have it easy will never truly appreciate the hard work associated with a healthy lifestyle and self-made fortune.

This might sound weird, but I’m glad I haven’t won the lottery and I’m glad I wasn’t born with perfect genetics.  It makes me appreciate what I have now because I had to really work for it.  I’m one of those people blessed/cursed with a lightning fast metabolism.  I’ve spent the past 7 years working out and the past 3 years really analyzing my diet so that I can put on healthy weight, trying to find 3500 healthy calories a day (it’s not easy).  I have friends who can look at a set of weights and suddenly his arms get bigger.  I have other friends who struggle to lose weight no matter how little what they eat.  Not fair right?  Welp, life isn’t fair.  Deal with it!

Life is too damn short to complain and make excuses. Besides, everybody has their own problems, nobody wants to listen to yours.  I plan on being on this planet as long as possible.  I plan on raising a great family, and I plan on watching my kids and their kids grow up.  I try to take steps every day to get healthier and stay in shape.

No matter your age, it’s never too late to start making those changes.  You can either blame things outside of your control, or you can suck it up and do the best with what you’ve got.  Don’t feel sorry for yourself, because nobody wants to hear it.  Get started now:

Who’s with me!


In the Gym, Keep it Simple Stupid!

Open up any copy of Muscle & Fitness, and you’re bound to find dozens of different workouts that will sculpt the three parts of your triceps, individual abs, all parts of your shoulder, etc., with ultra-specific exercises that isolate individual muscles.  These routines will ask you to spend 5 or 6 days a week in the gym for two hours at a time.  Unless you’re a body builder, taking steroids, or you don’t have a life, exercising like this is ridiculous!  If you have a job, friends, family, and a hobby or two, two hours a day in the gym, six days a week just isn’t an option.

I spent a few months in college following one of these routines because I didn’t know any better (and I had the free time).  I’d spend close to two hours a day in the gym, doing six or seven exercises of at least three sets each for the muscle group of the day, and then come home and drink my protein shake like they said in the magazine, and I did this religiously for three months.  You know what I got out of it?  Not much.

Exercising like this is time consuming and not practical.  “Appearance is a consequence of fitness” is a phrase I truly believe in, and it makes a lot of sense.  Don’t worry about exercising to look good.  Exercise to get strong and healthy, and you’ll end up looking good as a side effect (not to shabby).  Rather than doing time-consuming isolation exercises, concentrate on exercises that recruit as many muscles as possible.  If you can do one exercise that uses three muscle groups in only 10 minutes, why bother doing 6 different exercises working each individually?  Sure each muscle might get worked a little harder that way, but its going to take you at least three times as long.  Unless you’re hell bent on becoming a body-builder, the benefits don’t outweigh the cost.  Let’s take a look at the four or five key exercises you need to have in your gym routine.  You can get all of these exercises done in one 45-minute session and you’ll have worked practically every single muscle in your body.

  • Squats and Deadlifts: If you “work out” and these exercises aren’t in your repertoire, you’re wasting your time.  Not surprisingly, you won’t see many people doing these exercises in your typical gym because they think they’ll get hurt doing them.  This is untrue.  If you do squats and deadlifts correctly, you will have ridiculously strong and stable legs, back, and core (which is crucial for injury prevention).  Injuries occur because these muscles aren’t strong enough in certain situations (moving a couch, carrying your kids around, swinging a golf club, etc.).  Read how to do a perfect squat HERE, and read how to do a perfect deadlift HERE.  I guarantee you’ll earn the respect of everybody in your gym when you start doing deadlifts with three plates on each side.  Only have 10 lbs on each side to start?  That’s fine, get stronger every day, and you’ll get there eventually.
  • Pull Ups/Chin Ups: Rather than doing bicep curl after bicep curl (lame, and vain), do pull ups and chin ups.  Ever seen a fat rock climber?  Nope, because you need incredible strength to pull your body weight up the side of a mountain.  I feel like this is one exercise that is a true test of your strength, which is why it’s one of my favorites.  If you’re not strong enough to do pull ups and chin ups yet, see if your gym has an assisted pull up machine; these are better for you than using the pull down machine.  Read about pull ups and chin ups HERE.
  • Presses (chest/shoulder): I’m a big fan of incline dumbbell chest presses, because they work your chest, shoulders, triceps, and every muscle in between.  Set a bench at a little less than a 45 degree angle, grab a pair of dumbbells, and press them up above you as if you were bench-pressing.   Other options would be to do a regular bench press on a flat bench, or standing shoulder press.

If you’re just starting out in the gym, I would strongly recommend either a full body routine or two day split, making sure you go ALL OUT for 45 minutes and no more. Focus on just these exercises and get really strong at each of them.  Start with a low weight, and concentrate on having PERFECT form.  I have a lot of respect for a guy that can squat down past parallel, even if the weight on the bar is minimal.  You might ask: what about my biceps/triceps/abs/etc?  When you do pull ups and chin ups, your biceps get a hell of a workout.  When you do bench presses, your triceps get worked like crazy.  When you do a deadlift, you also work abs, lower back, traps, and forearms along with your legs.

Only after you’ve advanced to a high level of strength (squat 1.5 times your body weight, deadlift twice your body weight, etc.) with these exercises would I recommend doing isolation exercises.  If you’re not there yet, don’t worry about it.  Try to add weight each week to these exercises while maintaining good form.

Here’s a sample full-body routine with these exercises:

  • Squats: 4 sets (reps of 12, 10, 8, 6 – increasing weight each set wait 1 minute between sets)
  • Incline Dumbell Press: 4 sets (reps of 12,10,8,6 – increasing weight each set, wait 1 minute between sets)
  • Deadlifts: 4 sets (reps of 12, 10, 8, 6, increase weight each set, wait one minute between sets)
  • Pull ups or Chin ups: 3 sets to exhaustion (do as many as you can in each set).  If you do pull ups this time, do chin ups the next time.
  • Stretch afterwards!

Your muscles get rebuilt in your off-days, so I wouldn’t do this routine two days straight.  Do it on Monday, run sprints on Tuesday, go for a walk on Wednesday, and then do this routine again on Thursday, sprints on Friday, and then take Saturday and Sunday off.  That’s an hour and a half total in the gym, 40 minutes of sprint, and an hour of walking.  Only 3 hours and 10 minutes out of your week.

Sounds too simple and too easy to build muscle right?  Not true.  If you eat high quality protein, fruits, and vegetables while exercising like this you will build muscle mass.  Give it a shot, and simplify your routine.


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